Acne vulgaris (acne) is a common skin condition that occurs when oil and dead skin cells clog the skin's pores. Pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads are forms of acne.

Skin glands can produce more oil than the skin needs to stay moist. Too much oil can mix with dead skin cells and can clog pores. This sometimes results in bacterial infection. Acne most often develops on a person's face, neck, chest, shoulders, or back.

Acne is most common in teens and young adults, but it can also affect children. It may begin at any time and persist throughout a person's life. How much acne and where it appears vary from person to person. Some people only have a pimple from time to time. Others may have a lot of pimples most of the time.

Treatment may reduce or stop outbreaks and prevent scarring. Most cases of acne are treated with nonprescription medications at home. Severe acne may require prescription medications.

Last Updated: February 27, 2009

Author: Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology

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