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I thought “acne” was a pimple?

It’s a little more complicated…

Acne is mostly knows as “pimples” or “zits.” Acne, however, is a general term for a large gamut of skin irritations like blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, and cysts. Most types of acne form where there are a lot of oil (sebaceous) glands.

Hormones stimulate oil production, which then causes build-up in your pores. The oil gathered causes inflammation (stimulated from bacteria). There are different degrees of this reaction. The smallest is a pustule, which is inflammation near the surface of the skin. A deeper inflammation is a papule (also known as a pimple). The deepest and hardest to control is a cyst.

Whiteheads are formed by oil that breaks the surface. A blackhead is essentially a whitehead that comes into contact with oxygen (air) and changes color.

You may have also seen the term “acne vugaris” around. This simply means “common acne.” This is the condition most people have. Acne is most common during adolescent years but continues past into adulthood for many people. Acne is not singular to the face; it can from on the back (bacne), upper chest, and upper arms.

A serious case of acne is cystic acne. Acne cysts are actually nodules of inflammation. They are widely spread bumps on your face, red in color and filled with white pus-like substance. Unfortunately, cystic acne is usually painful. Good treatment can help heal them, but many people are left with scarring. When cysts heal, red patches may form on the area. These are called macules. They usually don’t cause permanent scarring.

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