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What is acne? Are there different types of acne?

It is a chronic skin problem that usually affects young people and adolescents. Up to 85% of adolescents between the ages of 15 and 18 have some form of acne.

Although rarer, it sometimes shows up at other times in life. Children and adults can get “blackheads” at any age.

There is a mild form that occurs in newborns and infants called neonatal acne . It is quite common, it usually heals well in a few weeks and no treatment is necessary, just continue with your normal hygiene.

Teenage acne is more common in boys , although girls can get it too, usually in less severe forms.

Although in most cases it is a minor problem, at that age the image is very important and can cause psychological damage . Also, some grain can leave a scar if it does not heal well.

How is it formed? why does it occur?

The skin has sebaceous (oil-producing) glands, which are more numerous in certain areas: face, neck, upper back and neckline. They are connected to the outside by a channel called ‘follicle’.

Acne is formed by a blockage or plugging of the skin follicles (pores). This causes the gland to fill with fat, which cannot come out, and “pimples” or “pimples” form. Sometimes, that fat becomes infected, the area becomes inflamed and the interior fills with pus, producing redness and pain (“pimples”).

This usually happens especially in adolescence because sex hormones increase the production of oil from the skin. Genetics and other external factors also influence, such as the use of inappropriate cosmetic products, the application of corticosteroid creams or the taking of some medications ( oral contraceptives ,  antiepileptics ,  corticosteroids , etc.). Sometimes stress can make acne worse.

What symptoms do you have?
Acne can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on the number and type of “pimples.”

  • “Blackheads” or “pimples” are called comedones . They don’t usually hurt.
  • When these turn slightly red they are called papulo-pustules .
  • If that swelling gets bigger, nodules and even cysts can form .

Can it be avoided?

Some causes cannot be avoided, others can.

Some recommendations to improve it, if it has already appeared:

– It is good to maintain proper body hygiene. Wash your face twice a day with water and appropriate soap (especially for oily skin, they are called: ” oil free “, “astringents”, “antiseborrheic”). It is not good to rub a lot in acne areas because it can produce more oil on the skin.

– The hair should be washed regularly (two to three times a week), with a gentle massage on the scalp without rubbing. An antiseborrheic shampoo can be used. Caps, helmets… can cause more pimples to come out in the areas they cover (forehead…).

– If moisturizing creams, sunscreens, makeup or other cosmetic products are used, special ones for oily skin should always be used (just like soaps)

– It is better not to touch or “manipulate” the lesions as it can increase inflammation and facilitate the appearance of scars.

– Exposure to the sun sometimes improves acne, but the skin should always be protected before sunbathing. It’s best to use an oil-free sun gel or lotion.

– Acne is not caused by food . There are many studies that show that diet does not influence the evolution of acne. There are people who have seen that their acne is worse when they eat certain foods, in which case it is better to avoid them, but no diet alone cures acne. A balanced diet should be followed, especially in times of growth and development such as adolescence.

How is it treated? ; what can i do at home

Acne usually lasts for several years, usually until the age of 18-20. And in cases with a severe family history of acne or very intense acne, it may be more so. Therefore, it is necessary to take the recommendations and treatments calmly and seriously, since many times the acne will not be better until several weeks after starting them.

The goal is to reduce the number of pimples, prevent new ones from appearing and avoid scars. There is no treatment that will make acne go away completely.


– “Keratolytics”. That is, products that undo the “plug” of the pore. To be effective, they must be applied constantly and for a few months (2-3 months).

– Antiseptic gels or lotions, such as retinoids, benzoyl peroxide or azelaic acid. These products have an anti-inflammatory effect on the area. They can cause dry and irritated skin, so the instructions for use must be followed to the letter.

– These treatments can be combined with antibiotic cream , when necessary.


In very extensive cases or those that do not improve sufficiently, the doctor may recommend adding oral treatment.

There are three types of oral treatments: antibiotics , retinoids, and oral contraceptives .

Oral retinoids are used when acne does not go well with any other drug. They are very effective, but the treatment is long (5-6 months, minimum) and they can have side effects that must be monitored. They should always be taken on the recommendation of the dermatologist and follow some controls. They are contraindicated in pregnancy.


Sometimes it is necessary to treat with surgery or laser to remove cysts or nodules that cannot be resolved with other treatments.

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