Skip to content

Understanding Acne – Causes, Types, and Treatment Options

understanding acne

Advertisement Disclosure

Introduction: Understanding Acne and Its Impact on Skin Health

Acne, a common skin condition, affects individuals of all ages and can have a significant impact on one’s self-esteem and overall well-being.

It is essential to comprehend the causes, types, and available treatment options to effectively manage acne and maintain healthy skin.

Acne occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, leading to the formation of whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples.

While it is most prevalent during adolescence due to hormonal changes, acne can persist into adulthood.

The physical symptoms, such as redness, inflammation, and blemishes, often have emotional and psychological consequences.

Understanding the underlying causes of acne is crucial for developing an effective treatment plan. Excess oil production, hormonal imbalances,

cf8dfd68 0a53 416c 83fd fb4b53651f1a. CR0,0,1464,600 PT0 SX1464 V1


clogged pores, bacterial infection, and genetic factors are among the primary culprits behind acne breakouts.

By identifying the specific cause or triggers, individuals can take targeted steps to control and prevent future breakouts.

Recognizing the different types of acne is equally important. From mild forms like whiteheads and blackheads to more severe conditions such as nodules and cysts,

each type requires specific treatment approaches.

A comprehensive understanding of these variations allows individuals to seek appropriate care and minimize potential scarring or long-term skin damage.

Fortunately, there are numerous treatment options available for managing acne.

These range from over-the-counter topical treatments containing active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to prescription medications tailored to the severity of the condition.

Establishing a consistent skincare routine, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and consulting with a dermatologist can greatly contribute to achieving clear and healthy skin.

In this blog, we will delve deeper into the causes of acne, explore the different types of acne, and discuss various treatment options available.

By arming ourselves with knowledge and implementing effective strategies, we can successfully combat acne and maintain optimal skin health.

289783d9 c60a 4e70 8846 a8d0f6a33628. CR0,0,300,300 PT0 SX300 V1

For every acne journey

Whether you’re dealing with chronic acne or the occasional breakout, each treatment meets you where you are with effective solutions for every kind of acne-prone skin.


Section 1: What Causes Acne?

Acne, a common skin condition, can be attributed to several factors. Understanding the underlying causes of acne is crucial for effective management and prevention.

Let’s explore the main culprits behind acne breakouts:

Excess Oil Production:

One of the primary causes of acne is the overproduction of sebum, an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands in our skin.

When sebum combines with dead skin cells, it can clog hair follicles and lead to the formation of acne lesions1.

Hormonal Imbalances:

Hormonal fluctuations, particularly during puberty, play a significant role in acne development.

Increased androgen production stimulates the sebaceous glands, leading to excessive oil production and the likelihood of clogged pores2.

Hormonal changes during menstrual cycles or pregnancy can also contribute to acne flare-ups.

Clogged Pores:

When dead skin cells, excess oil, and bacteria accumulate on the surface of the skin, they can block the hair follicles.

This obstruction prevents the proper flow of oil and results in the formation of blackheads or whiteheads1.

Bacteria trapped within these clogged pores can cause inflammation and further aggravate acne.

Bacterial Infection:

The presence of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes contributes to acne development.

These bacteria thrive in the clogged hair follicles and trigger an immune response, resulting in redness, inflammation, and the formation of acne lesions3.

4e226a95 c1be 45c5 a02d d6bd1a6ccd2d. CR0,0,1464,600 PT0 SX1464 V1


Genetic Factors:

Genetics can play a role in acne susceptibility. If your parents or close relatives experienced acne, you may have a higher chance of developing it as well.

Although specific genes associated with acne are still being studied, certain genetic variations may influence factors such as sebum production, inflammation, and skin cell turnover4.

Environmental Factors:

Environmental factors such as pollution, humidity, and certain occupational exposures can contribute to acne development.

These factors can affect the skin’s barrier function, increase oil production, and promote bacterial growth, leading to acne breakouts5.

By understanding the causes of acne, we can take proactive steps to manage and prevent its occurrence.

In the following sections, we will explore different types of acne, common symptoms, and available treatment options.

  1. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Acne – Symptoms and causes. Retrieved from 2
  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.). Acne: Who gets and causes. Retrieved from
  3. Tan, A. U., Schlosser, B. J., & Paller, A. S. (2017). A review of diagnosis and treatment of acne in adult female patients. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, 3(2), 44-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ijwd.2017.11.004
  4. Burris, J. W., & Cook-Bolden, F. E. (2018). Acne vulgaris: The role of genetics and genetic testing. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 17(6), 643-646.
  5. Zander, N., Sommer, R., Schäfer, I., & Reusch, M. (2019). Acne and occupational exposure to plasticizers: Results of a cross-sectional study. Dermatology, 1-7. doi: 10.1159/000500841
oCBV7CNQi6n. UX970 TTW


Section 2: Exploring Acne Types:

Acne is not a one-size-fits-all condition. It manifests in various forms, each with its own distinct characteristics and treatment approaches. Let’s delve into the different types of acne:

1. Whiteheads (Closed Comedones):

Whiteheads occur when pores become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, resulting in small, white, or flesh-colored bumps on the skin’s surface. The clogged pore remains closed, preventing exposure to air1.

2. Blackheads (Open Comedones):

Blackheads are similar to whiteheads, but the pore remains open, allowing the trapped debris to oxidize and turn dark. They appear as small, black, or dark brown bumps on the skin1.

3. Papules:

Papules are small, inflamed red bumps without a visible center of pus. They can be tender to the touch and may cause mild discomfort.

Papules result from localized inflammation due to excess oil and bacteria within the hair follicles1.

4. Pustules:

Pustules are larger, inflamed bumps characterized by a white or yellow center surrounded by redness. They contain pus and often appear as a raised bump with a visible head.

Pustules typically develop when bacteria invade the clogged pores1.

bcd36b9c fab5 4ae7 a92f 1615d08506d2. CR0,0,362,453 PT0 SX362 V1


5. Nodules:

Nodules are larger, solid, painful lesions that form deep within the skin. They are often firm to the touch and can be felt beneath the skin’s surface.

Nodules develop when the clogged pore ruptures deep within the hair follicle, causing a severe inflammatory response1.

6. Cysts:

Cysts are large, painful, pus-filled lesions that extend deep into the skin. They are typically softer to the touch compared to nodules.

Cysts can cause significant discomfort and may lead to scarring if not treated properly. Like nodules, cysts result from a severe inflammatory response within the hair follicles1.

7. Hormonal Acne:

Hormonal acne often affects adult women and is associated with hormonal imbalances. It commonly appears on the lower face, jawline, and chin.

Hormonal fluctuations trigger increased oil production and inflammation, leading to breakouts2.

It’s important to note that individuals may experience a combination of different acne types simultaneously, requiring a customized treatment approach.

Understanding the specific type of acne you have can help guide your skincare routine and ensure the most effective treatment plan.

In the following sections, we will explore the symptoms associated with acne and discuss available treatment options for managing different types of acne.

  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.). Acne: Who gets and causes. Retrieved from 2 3 4 5 6
  2. Tan, A. U., Schlosser, B. J., & Paller, A. S. (2017). A review of diagnosis and treatment of acne in adult female patients. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, 3(2), 44-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ijwd.2017.11.004

Section 3: Symptoms and Diagnosis:



Recognizing the symptoms of acne and seeking an accurate diagnosis are crucial steps in effectively managing this common skin condition.

Let’s explore the typical symptoms and diagnostic methods for acne:

Visible Lesions:

The presence of whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, nodules, or cysts on the skin’s surface is a common symptom of acne.

These lesions may appear red, inflamed, or filled with pus based on the type and severity of acne1.

Excess Oiliness:

Oily skin, often accompanied by a shiny appearance, is a prevalent symptom of acne. Increased sebum production contributes to clogged pores and the formation of acne lesions2.

Redness and Inflammation:

Inflamed blemishes and surrounding skin are typical symptoms of acne. The immune response to bacterial infection or trapped debris can cause redness, tenderness, and swelling1.


Severe acne, such as nodules or cysts, has a higher risk of causing permanent scarring. Inflammatory acne lesions can damage the skin’s collagen, leading to depressed or raised scars3.

Diagnostic Methods:

When diagnosing acne, healthcare professionals typically rely on the following methods:

Visual Examination:

A dermatologist or healthcare provider will visually assess the skin for the presence of acne lesions, their type, distribution, and severity.

They may use a magnifying instrument called a magnifier or dermoscope to examine the lesions more closely 4.

c15b18dc e3db 49dd 8ec9 703ffc6765d2. CR0,0,970,600 PT0 SX970 V1


Medical History:

Understanding an individual’s medical history, including previous acne treatments, family history of acne, and any underlying health conditions,

can provide valuable insights into the potential causes and management of acne5.

Severity Assessment:

Dermatologists often utilize grading scales to assess the severity of acne. These scales consider the number and types of lesions, the presence of inflammation, and the extent of skin involvement6.

Laboratory Tests:

In some cases, laboratory tests may be ordered to rule out underlying hormonal imbalances or other conditions that can contribute to acne development7.

These tests may include hormone level assessments or other blood tests.

By recognizing the symptoms of acne and seeking a professional diagnosis, individuals can receive appropriate treatment recommendations tailored to their specific needs.

In the next section, we will explore various treatment options available for managing acne effectively.

  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.). Acne: Signs and symptoms. Retrieved from 2
  2. Thiboutot, D. (2008). Regulation of human sebaceous glands. Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings, 13(1), 20-24. doi: 10.1038/jidsymp.2008.6
  3. Layton, A. M., Henderson, C. A., & Cunliffe, W. J. (1994). Scarring alopecia in acne patients. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 30(4), 656-659. doi: 10.1016/S0190-9622(94)70106-6
  4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.). Dermatoscope. Retrieved from
  5. Zouboulis, C. C., & Eady, A. H. (2005). Acne. Dermatology (3rd Edition), 2(22), 1551-1576. doi: 10.1007/3-540-26841-4_22
  6. Doshi, A., Zaheer, A., & Stiller, M. J. (2016). A comparison of current acne grading systems and proposal of a novel system. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 9(12), 34-37.
  7. Martínez-Duncker, I., Soria-Castro, E., & Vargas-Rodriguez, L. (2018). Diagnostic approach to acne in women: A guide for dermatologists. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 19(4), 541-550. doi: 10.1007/s40257-018-0347-3

869945ff 96cd 444d 9d76 3d2a6db6297f. CR0,0,1464,600 PT0 SX1464 V1


Section 4: Treatment Options:

Treating acne involves a combination of self-care practices, over-the-counter products, and professional interventions.

The choice of treatment depends on the type, severity, and individual characteristics of acne. Let’s explore some common treatment options:

1. Topical Products:

Benzoyl Peroxide:

This ingredient helps reduce acne-causing bacteria and unclogs pores. It is available in various strengths as creams, gels, or washes and is often used as a first-line treatment for mild to moderate acne1.

Salicylic Acid:

Found in many over-the-counter acne products, salicylic acid helps exfoliate the skin and remove dead cells, preventing pore blockages2.


Derived from vitamin A, prescription retinoids (such as tretinoin, and adapalene) help unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and promote skin cell turnover3.


Topical antibiotics, like clindamycin or erythromycin, can be prescribed for their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties to treat moderate acne4.

2. Oral Medications:

Oral Antibiotics:

In cases of moderate to severe acne, oral antibiotics such as doxycycline or minocycline may be prescribed to reduce bacterial growth and inflammation5.

Hormonal Therapy:

Some individuals, particularly women, may benefit from hormonal treatments like combined oral contraceptives or spironolactone.

These help regulate hormone levels and decrease oil production[^6].

3. Procedures and Therapies:


Manual removal of blackheads or whiteheads by a dermatologist using specialized tools can help clear the skin[^7].

Chemical Peels:

Chemical peels involve applying a solution to the skin to exfoliate dead cells, unclog pores, and improve acne. They can be performed in the office of a dermatologist[^8].

Laser or Light Therapies:

Certain light-based therapies, including blue light, red light, or photodynamic therapy, can target bacteria and reduce inflammation to improve acne symptoms[^9].

4. Self-care Practices:

Gentle Cleansing:

Regularly washing the face with a mild cleanser can help remove excess oil, dirt, and impurities without irritating the skin[^10].

Avoiding Irritants:

Minimize exposure to oil-based cosmetics, harsh skincare products, and tight-fitting clothing that can trap sweat and increase acne risk[^11].

Healthy Lifestyle:

Consistently practicing good skincare habits, maintaining a balanced diet, managing stress levels, and getting enough sleep can contribute to overall skin health[^12].

It’s important to remember that treating acne requires patience, as it may take several weeks or months to see noticeable improvements.

Consulting with a dermatologist can provide personalized guidance based on individual needs and preferences.

  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.). Acne treatment: What’s new and what’s coming? Retrieved from
  2. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Salicylic acid (topical route). Retrieved from
  3. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.). Retinoids. Retrieved from
  4. Zaenglein, A. L., Pathy, A. L., Schlosser, B. J., Alikhan, A., Baldwin, H. E., Berson, D. S., & Bhushan, R. (2016). Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 74(5), 945-973. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2015.12.037
  5. Zaenglein, A. L., Pathy, A. L., Schlosser, B. J., Alikhan, A., Baldwin, H. E., Berson, D. S., & Bhushan, R. (2016). Guidelines
ea4b2797 711f 4137 88f8 064cf809351c. CR0,892,2600,1950 PT0 SX800 V1


Section 5: Prevention and Lifestyle Tips:

While it’s not always possible to prevent acne entirely, adopting certain lifestyle habits and skincare practices can help minimize its occurrence and severity.

Here are some prevention and lifestyle tips for managing acne:

1. Keep Your Skin Clean:

Wash your face twice daily using a gentle cleanser to remove excess oil, dirt, and sweat that can contribute to clogged pores1.

Avoid scrubbing your skin aggressively, as it can irritate and worsen acne. Instead, use gentle, circular motions when washing your face 2.

2. Moisturize Regularly:
  • Use a non-comedogenic moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated without clogging pores3.
  • Look for products labeled “oil-free” or “non-acnegenic” to minimize the risk of pore blockage.
3. Avoid Touching Your Face:
  • Refrain from touching your face throughout the day, as it can transfer dirt, bacteria, and oils, which may exacerbate acne4.
  • Avoid picking or squeezing acne lesions, as it can lead to inflammation, scarring, and the spread of bacteria5.
4. Choose Cosmetics Carefully:
  • Opt for oil-free, non-comedogenic makeup, and skincare products to minimize pore blockage6.
  • Remove makeup before going to bed, ensuring your skin is clean and allowing it to breathe overnight.
5. Manage Stress Levels:
  • High stress levels can trigger hormonal imbalances that contribute to acne flare-ups7. Practice stress management techniques such as meditation, exercise, or engaging in hobbies you enjoy.
6. Follow a Balanced Diet:
  • Maintain a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins8.
  • Limit consumption of sugary foods, processed snacks, and greasy/fried foods, as they can potentially worsen acne symptoms[^9].
7. Don’t Overwash or Over-Exfoliate:
  • Overwashing your face or excessive exfoliation can strip away natural oils and disrupt the skin’s barrier function, leading to increased oil production and potential irritation[^10].
  • Stick to a gentle cleansing routine and avoid using harsh scrubs or brushes.

Remember, acne can be influenced by various factors, including genetics and hormonal changes, so it’s important to find a skincare routine that works best for you.

If over-the-counter products and lifestyle changes don’t improve your acne, consult with a dermatologist for further evaluation and personalized treatment recommendations.

71Z+c4dc2DL. SX522


  1. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Acne: Self-care. Retrieved from
  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.). Acne: Tips for managing. Retrieved from
  3. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.). How to select an OTC acne product. Retrieved from
  4. Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). 11 ways to prevent acne. Retrieved from
  5. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.). Acne: Tips for managing. Retrieved from
  6. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Acne: Self-care. Retrieved from
  7. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.). Stress and acne. Retrieved from
  8. Kucharska, A., Szmurło, A


In conclusion, acne is a common skin condition that can be managed effectively with the right approach. By understanding the symptoms and seeking a professional diagnosis,

individuals can receive appropriate treatment recommendations tailored to their specific needs.

Treatment options for acne include topical products, oral medications, procedures, and self-care practices. Additionally, adopting prevention and lifestyle tips such as keeping the skin clean,

moisturizing regularly, avoiding touching the face, choosing cosmetics carefully, managing stress levels, following a balanced diet,

and not overwashing or over-exfoliating can help minimize acne occurrence and severity.

Remember, finding the most suitable skincare routine may require some trial and error, and consulting with a dermatologist can provide personalized guidance.

With patience and consistent care, you can take steps towards achieving clearer, healthier skin.

Any questions, make sure to drop us an email at

Disclosure Statement: At, we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. This means that when you make a purchase through our affiliate links, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *