Acne is a common human skin disease, characterized by areas of skin with seborrhea (scaly red skin), comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), papules (pinheads), pustules (pimples), nodules (large papules) 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.
Severe acne is inflammatory, but acne can also manifest in noninflammatory forms. The lesions are caused by changes in pilosebaceous units, skin structures consisting of a hair follicle and its associated sebaceous gland, changes that require androgen stimulation.
Acne occurs most commonly during adolescence, and often continues into adulthood. In adolescence, acne is usually caused by an increase in testosterone, which people of both genders accrue during puberty. For most people, acne diminishes over time and tends to disappear – or at the very least decrease – after one reaches one’s early twenties. There is, however, no way to predict how long it will take to disappear entirely, and some individuals will carry this condition well into their thirties, forties, and beyond.
The goal of any dermatological treatment is to stop the condition and treat not only the symptoms, but the cause of the malady and to bring the patient’s complexion back to a more youthful state.