Acne is common and rarely poses a health risk. But that's small comfort if you're afflicted with zits, and untreated acne can leave scars.
Acne develops when bacteria on the skin (they're normal) grow in plugged follicles. The bacteria cause inflammation, and the follicle breaks down. The material that was plugging it spills onto the skin. Some sort of pimple, zit or lesion results. Sometimes, there are a lot of them at once.
A comedo (KOM-e-do) is what doctors call the basic plugged follicle. If it's closed, beneath the skin, it's a whitehead. If it opens and darkens because of oxidation, a blackhead forms. Papules are small inflamed bumps. Pustules (your basic pimples) are papules topped by a yellowish or whitish bump of pus.
If bacteria invade the lesions, cysts may develop. That's the sort of acne that may leave permanent scars.
You'll probably need the help of a doctor to fight acne. Doctors may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications. They may give you oral antibiotics or medications to apply to the skin, or both. Be patient. Acne may get worse before it gets better, and improvement may take weeks.
Oil, bumps and acne aren't the only changes in your skin. Read on to learn more.