Acne affects just about everyone at some time during life. It can be embarrassing, irritating or even painful. It's a normal part of puberty, but can affect people into the adult years. The severity and symptoms vary from person to person.
Acne is the term that's used for plugged pores that manifest as blackheads or whiteheads, pimples and the sometimes deeper lumps that a person can experience. It's most common on the face, but can show up on the chest, neck, back and shoulders. It's even present on the upper arms in some people. Acne occurs when a person's pores become blocked. The pores contain the oily substance called sebum, dead cells, tiny hairs and bacteria, according to nonprofit organization Acne.org.
Acne can range in severity from blackheads and whiteheads, called comedones, to cysts or nodulocystic acne, which is a severe form. A person with nodulocystic acne has many deep, inflamed bumps as well as cysts, which are pus-filled bumps that look like boils. Nodules can be tender to the touch, and can be red and sometimes even purple. Scarring often follows this severe form of acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Acne affects almost every teenager, with some eight out of 10 teens getting it, according to the Nemours Foundation. It generally will last for five to 10 years. The common type of acne that teens are prone to is called acne vulgaris. Vulgaris means "of the common type," according to Nemours. Teen acne normally fades during a person's early 20s. Acne isn't restricted to teens, however, and people of any age can suffer acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Males and females have about equal rates of suffering acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. There can be differences, however. Males are prone to suffer more severe forms of acne that last longer. Women more often have intermittent acne that occurs along with hormonal changes that come with the menstrual cycle. Women are more likely to suffer acne caused by cosmetics. These kinds of acne that females are afflicted with sometimes affect them well into adulthood.
Acne is not a huge health risk or life-threatening condition. However, it can be disfiguring or simply discomforting. Acne can leave permanent marks when it's severe, and even sometimes when it's mild, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The economic effect of acne is significant in the United States. Americans seeking to rid themselves of the condition spend more than a $100 million yearly for over-the-counter acne treatments. This spending level does not include special cleansers or soaps. Many people go further, incurring costs for prescription therapies and visiting health care providers.
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