kids encyclopedia robot

Acne facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Synonyms Acne vulgaris
Photograph of an 18-year-old male with moderate severity acne vulgaris demonstrating classic features of whiteheads and oily skin distributed over the forehead
Acne vulgaris in an 18-year-old male during puberty
Symptoms Blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, oily skin, scarring
Complications Anxiety, reduced self-esteem, depression
Usual onset Puberty
Risk factors Genetics
Similar conditions Folliculitis, rosacea, hidradenitis suppurativa, miliaria
Treatment Lifestyle changes, medications, medical procedures
Medication Azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, antibiotics, birth control pills, isotretinoin
Frequency 633 million affected (2015)

Acne is an infection of the skin, caused by changes in the sebaceous glands. The most common form of acne is called acne vulgaris, which means "common acne". The redness comes from the inflammation of the skin in response to the infection.

Oils from the glands combine with dead skin cells to block hair follicles. Under the blocked pore, oil builds up. Skin bacteria can then grow very quickly. This infection makes the skin become swollen and red, which becomes visible.

The face, chest, back, and upper arms are most common places for acne to happen.

Acne is common during puberty, when a person is turning from a child into an adult, because of high levels of hormones. Acne becomes less common as people reach adulthood.

There are 650 million people in the world with acne, which is around 9.4% of the global population. More females are getting acne than males (9.8% versus 9.0%). Acne affects 40 to 50 million people in the United States (16%) and approximately 3 to 5 million in Australia (23%). Acne affects people of all ethnic groups. In 2015, acne was estimated to affect 633 million people globally, making it the 8th most common disease worldwide.

There are lots of acne treatment methods available, including natural treatments.

Effects of acne

Teenager with acne

People of all ages can get acne, although it occurs more commonly in adolescents. Acne can affect people physically, psychologically, and socially. Acne causes scarring, and acne pustules can be very painful and sensitive.

People suffering from a bad case of acne, especially adolescents, can develop low self-esteem which can lead to depression. Low self-esteem issues can make a person suffering from acne withdraw from many social events. It makes developing new personal relationships more difficult. Low self-esteem can also cause problems with career advancement as the person may find it difficult to present a positive attitude.

Causes of acne

Blausen 0437 HairFollicleAnatomy
Sebaceous gland

Exactly why some people get acne and some do not is not completely known. These can cause acne, or make it worse:

  • Hormonal fluctuation
  • Hyperactive sebaceous glands
  • Stress
  • Many dead skin cells staying on the skin
  • Bacteria in the pores
  • Diet


Benzoyl peroxide gel
Benzoyl peroxide gel

Many things are sold to treat acne, the most popular being benzoyl peroxide. Many of these things have not been scientifically proven to help acne. However, a mix of commercial and homemade treatments can help with acne for various reasons.

  • Killing the bacteria that grow in the blocked follicles. This can be done by taking an antibiotic medication, or by putting antibiotics on the skin.
  • Removing oil on the skin can be done by taking drugs that contain Vitamin A. Accutane is the name of the most used treatment using massive quantities of Vitamin A.
  • Removing dead skin cells can be done by professional treatment. This encourages the skin to peel away the top layer of cells.
  • Diet: studies have shown that acne is quite rare in areas with different diets, and particular food items have been shown to increase acne.

Popping a pimple should not be done by anyone but a qualified dermatologist. Pimple popping irritates skin, can make the bacteria spread, and can cause scars.

If you must pop a pimple yourself, it is advised to apply warm water to the area before popping it and to wash your hand thoroughly before beginning so as to avoid spreading bacteria via the hands. Applying hot water will open up the pores and reduce the damage because it will require less force to pop it.

Acne scars

Blue Light acne phototherapy iClear
Blue Light acne photo-therapy

Bad acne often leads to bad scars where the skin has the shape of a volcano. It is difficult and expensive to treat.

These are some ways acne scars can be treated:

  • Dermabrasion: The top layer of the skin is taken away to make the scar look less deep. It makes the scar less visible, but does not remove it completely. Many treatments may be needed.
  • Laser resurfacing: A laser is used to burn off the top layer of the skin.
  • Deep penetrating light therapy: A non-laser, non-ultraviolet light therapy that can be used to improve mild to moderate acne.
  • Punch excision: The scar is raised with a punch tool and the edges are smoothed together.
  • Chemical peels: Different types of acid are put on the skin so that a smoother layer can form.
  • Subcision: A hole is made between the scar and the skin under the scar. Blood can pool under the scar, and raise it to the surface of the skin.

Images for kids

kids search engine
Acne Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.