May 5, 2016

Answers FAQ

Acne (Pimples) FAQs

Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD on April 1, 2016

Take the Acne (Pimples) Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and
Test your Knowledge!

Q:Acne is the result of an allergy. True or false?

A:False.

Acne is a disease that affects the skin's oil glands.

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Q:There are many different kinds of pimples that can be seen with acne. True or false?

A:True.

There are many types of pimples. The most common types are:
Whiteheads (comedones): These are pimples (blocked follicles) that stay under the surface of the skin
Blackheads: These pimples rise to the skin's surface and look black
Papules: These are small pink bumps that can be tender
Pustules: These pimples are red at the bottom and have pus on top
Nodules: These are large, painful, solid pimples that are deep in the skin
Cysts: These deep, painful, pus-filled pimples can cause scars

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Q:Why do pimples form?

A:Dead skin, oil, and bacteria.

Pimples form when dead skin cells mix with excess oil (sebum). This mixture plugs the pore, causing swelling. Bacteria can grow in the mix and lead to infection and pus.

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Q:Greasy, fried foods make acne worse. True or false?

A:False.

Parents often tell teens to avoid pizza, chocolate, greasy and fried foods, and junk food. While these foods may not be good for overall health, they don't cause acne or make it worse.

Some people do find that they notice their breakouts get more severe when they eat too much of a certain food. If you're one of them, it's worth trying to cut back on that food to see what happens.

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Q:Acne is the most common disease of the skin. True or false?

A:True.

Acne is the most common skin disease. Affecting all races and ages, acne is most common in teenagers and young adults. An estimated 80% of all people between the ages of 11 and 30 have acne outbreaks at some point. Some people in their 40s and 50s still get acne.

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Q:Blackheads are the result of oil and dirt. True or false?

A:False.

The basic acne lesion, called the comedo (KOM-e-do), is simply an enlarged and plugged hair follicle. If the comedo stays beneath the skin, it is called a closed comedo and produces a white bump called a whitehead.

A comedo that reaches the surface of the skin and opens up is called an open comedo or blackhead because it looks black on the skin's surface. This black discoloration is due to changes in sebum as it is exposed to air. It is not due to dirt. Both whiteheads and blackheads may stay in the skin for a long time.

Blackheads are therefore not dirt and do not reflect poor hygiene.

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Q:Acne is often seen in babies. True or false?

A:True.

Newborn babies may have some skin conditions that seem unusual. Most are fairly common and do not need to be treated.

Baby acne is a red, pimply rash on the face. It appears as more pronounced red or white bumps on the forehead or cheeks. Baby acne develops within the first three to four weeks due to hormonal changes that stimulate oil glands. Generally, it disappears over time.

Simply wash your baby's face with water and a mild baby soap daily, avoid lotions or oils, and never pinch or scrub the bumps. If baby acne doesn't clear up within three months, tell your pediatrician.

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Q:Rosacea and acne are the same disease. True or false?

A:False.

Rosacea is characterized by pimples in the middle third of the face, along with redness, flushing, and the presence of superficial blood vessels. It generally affects people in their 30s and 40s and older. The appearance may sometimes seem similar to that of acne; however, there are no blackheads or whiteheads in rosacea.

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Q:Acne is a serious health threat. True or false?

A:False.

Acne is not a serious health threat, but it can cause scars. Early treatment is the best way to prevent scars. Your doctor may suggest over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drugs. Some acne medicines are put right on the skin. Other medicines are pills that you swallow. The doctor may tell you to use more than one medicine.

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