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Acne - What Is It?

Updated on May 8, 2011

What Is Acne?

Acne is best described as:

a common human skin disease, characterized by areas of skin with scaly red skin (seborrhea), blackheads and whiteheads (comedones), pinheads (papules), pimples and possibly scarring. Acne affects mostly skin with the densest population of sebaceous follicles; these areas include the face, the upper part of the chest, and the back.

The Oxford English Dictionary definition is:

[mass noun]

a skin condition characterized by red pimples on the skin, especially on the face, due to inflamed or infected sebaceous glands and prevalent chiefly among adolescents.

The origin of acne is given as:

mid 19th century: via modern Latin from Greek aknas, a misreading of akmas, accusative plural of akmē ‘highest point, peak, or facial eruption.

In basic terms, acne is a skin condition that is caused by the overproduction of oil by the oil glands attached to follicles under the skin. This oil, or sebum is needed to lubricate the follicle and surrounding skin. When too much oil is produced it gets trapped and blocks the follicle opening (pore) and results in what we know as pimples, blackheads and whiteheads on the surface of skin.

Acne is a common condition sufferd by millions of people around the world. It can be just one or two pimples or it can be a whole area of painful, sore pimples. In either case it can have a devestating effect on those who suffer with it.

There are many different treatments for acne – some good, some bad. You can even use toothpaste! Yes, toothpaste and acne… a strange combination but many swear by it. However, it is not a cure, nor is it a long term solution. It is a quick fix that may or not work for you.

Any number of things can affect acne and how bad it gets.

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