Acne is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that causes spots and pimples, especially on the face, shoulders, back, neck, chest, and upper arms. It commonly occurs during puberty, when the sebaceous glands activate, and affects 3 in every 4 people aged 11 to 30 years.


But adults can also have problems with oily skin and blackheads. Acne is not dangerous, but it can leave skin scars. It can be treated with both home remedies and prescription medications, depending on the severity of the case.


There are sebaceous glands in the skin that are joined with hair follicles. Follicles are the small pores from which the hair grows out. The sebaceous glands produce a fatty substance, sebum, which keeps both hair and skin soft. When you reach puberty, the production of sebum increases. Sometimes the sebaceous glands produce more sebum than needed. Acne can occur because excess sebum and dead skin cells block your pores and bacteria can then build up in the pores and create inflammation or infection.


Acne usually develops on the face, neck, shoulders, chest and back, because most sebaceous glands are located there. 


Acne can produce:


  • Whiteheads that look like small bumps on your skin. These are caused by clogged pores. If your skin over the bump is closed and there is no air there, the bumps are white.
  • Blackheads that look like small dark dots. If nothing closes the skin over the bump, they turn black after coming into contact with air.
  • If the sebaceous glands or hair follicles become inflamed or infected, there may be other types of acne, such as papules, pustules, nodules, cysts. These may cause scarring of the skin.


Different types of acne

There are different types of acne. They can be difficult to distinguish because they can change from one type to another. 


  • mild acne – produces whiteheads and / or blackheads
  • moderate acne – produces whiteheads and blackheads, many papules and pustules, bumps are inflamed 
  • severe acne – produces plenty of blackheads, painful papules, pustules, multiple inflamed cysts and nodules.

Prevention and protection

Acne can be troublesome, but you can relieve symptoms by:


  • cleaning skin with a mild soap (pH 5,5)
  • washing face with an oil-free cleanser
  • using prescription drugs for acne
  • eating a healthy diet 
  • removing makeup thoroughly
  • eating a healthy diet
  • not squeezing pimples
  • avoiding oily creams.


There are various prescription medications that help with acne. It can be difficult to know which medication is best for you. You can try a medication for three months to see if it has an effect, then if doesn’t you can change it. For some women – who also need contraception – combined birth control pills that also counteract acne may be an option. Your doctor can help you with advice and prescriptions.


Scars from acne

Severe acne can cause scarring of your skin. If you are bothered by the scars and want to make them less visible, there are different treatments. Which treatment depends on the type of scar you have:


Atrophic scars – are flat, thin scars. The scars can become less visible with the help of dermabrasion, chemical peeling and laser resurfacing. 

Hypertrophic scars – are keloid scars. Cortisone injections can help you get rid of these scars.


In all cases, you need to wait until the acne has healed before you can treat the scars.

When to consult a doctor

Get medical help if your acne causes permanent scarring or if non-prescription drugs do not work.

How APPOTEK can help

  • Consulting
  • Individual assessment and prescriptions if needed.

Valeria Chernikova, Neurologist, M.D.