Acne

A chronic disorder associated with an increase in sebum secretion. It is characterized by open comedones (blackheads) and closed comedones (whiteheads).

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Library of Medicine)

About Acne

Acne is more severe in some people than in others. Doctors distinguish between mild, moderate and severe forms of acne. There are also inflammatory and non-inflammatory types of acne. Non-inflammatory acne is a milder type, which most people would refer to as "pimples" or "blackheads" rather than "acne."

Unlike normal pimples, acne develops over a longer period of time and stays longer. It sometimes leaves small red marks or scars behind. "Normal" pimples usually form quickly and then disappear again soon afterwards.

Read more about Acne

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Minocycline for acne vulgaris: efficacy and safety

Acne is the most common skin disease of adolescence, and in most cases it clears spontaneously. However, in some people it persists in to adulthood. There are many different treatment options, but there is little good evidence to inform doctors and individuals about which to choose.

Complementary therapies for acne vulgaris

Acne is a chronic skin disease, which causes spots to occur simultaneously on several areas of the body, including the face, neck, back, and chest. Besides the current commonly used treatments, complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are of increasing interest to people who often use them in addition to conventional treatments as additive or single therapies to treat acne.

Spironolactone versus placebo or in combination with steroids for hirsutism and/or acne

The evidence suggests a lack of evidence to show whether spironolactone can reduce hirsutism and acne. Hirsutism in women (excessive hair growth) is most often caused by an increased production of male hormones. Spironolactone (`Aldactone' or `Spirotone') is an anti‐androgen, which can be taken with or without the oral contraceptive pill to try and reduce hirsutism. From the studies included in this review, there is some evidence to show that spironolactone is an effective treatment to decrease the degree of hirsutism, but insufficient evidence for the management of acne vulgaris. It appears to be more effective than finasteride 5mg/day, metformin and low dose cyproterone acetate.

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Summaries for consumers

Minocycline for acne vulgaris: efficacy and safety

Acne is the most common skin disease of adolescence, and in most cases it clears spontaneously. However, in some people it persists in to adulthood. There are many different treatment options, but there is little good evidence to inform doctors and individuals about which to choose.

Complementary therapies for acne vulgaris

Acne is a chronic skin disease, which causes spots to occur simultaneously on several areas of the body, including the face, neck, back, and chest. Besides the current commonly used treatments, complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are of increasing interest to people who often use them in addition to conventional treatments as additive or single therapies to treat acne.

Spironolactone versus placebo or in combination with steroids for hirsutism and/or acne

The evidence suggests a lack of evidence to show whether spironolactone can reduce hirsutism and acne. Hirsutism in women (excessive hair growth) is most often caused by an increased production of male hormones. Spironolactone (`Aldactone' or `Spirotone') is an anti‐androgen, which can be taken with or without the oral contraceptive pill to try and reduce hirsutism. From the studies included in this review, there is some evidence to show that spironolactone is an effective treatment to decrease the degree of hirsutism, but insufficient evidence for the management of acne vulgaris. It appears to be more effective than finasteride 5mg/day, metformin and low dose cyproterone acetate.

See all (41)

Terms to know

Acne Lesions
A pattern of blemishes in an area of skin resulting from the skin condition.
Acne Scars
Acne scars are the result of inflammation within the dermal layer of skin brought on by acne. The scar is created by an abnormal form of healing.
Closed Comedones (Whiteheads)
A comedo is a clogged hair follicle (pore) in the skin. Keratin (skin debris) combines with oil to block the follicle. A comedo can be open (blackhead) or closed by skin (whitehead), and occur with or without acne.
Comedones
A comedo is a clogged hair follicle (pore) in the skin. A comedo can be open (blackhead) or closed by skin (whitehead), and occur with or without acne. The plural of comedo is comedones.
Dermatologist
A doctor who has special training to diagnose and treat skin problems.
Inflammation
Redness, swelling, pain, and/or a feeling of heat in an area of the body. This is a protective reaction to injury, disease, or irritation of the tissues.
Macrocomedones
A comedo is a clogged hair follicle (pore) in the skin. Comedones that are 1mm or larger are called macrocomedones. They are closed comedones and are more frequent on the face than neck.
Microcomedones
A comedo is a clogged hair follicle (pore) in the skin. This small plug is called a microcomedo. If sebum continues to build up behind the plug, it can enlarge and form a visible comedo.
Open Comedones (Blackheads)
A comedo is a clogged hair follicle (pore) in the skin. A comedo can be open (blackhead) or closed by skin (whitehead). Being open to the air causes oxidization, which turns it black.
Papules
A small, solid, raised bump on the skin that has a border with edges that are easy to see. Papules may be red, purple, brown, or pink.
Pilosebaceous Unit
The structure consisting of hair, hair follicle, arrector pili muscle and sebaceous gland.
Pores in the Skin
A tiny opening in the skin.
Pustules (Pimples)
A pimple filled with pus.

More about Acne

Photo of a young adult

Also called: Acne vulgaris, Common acne

See Also: Rosacea

Other terms to know: See all 13
Acne Lesions, Acne Scars, Closed Comedones (Whiteheads)

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Acne Skin Care

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