What Is Acne and What Causes It?

Acne is a condition of the skin that shows up as different types of lumps. These lumps are referred to as:

  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Pimples

The type of acne that teenagers can get is called acne vulgaris – which means “of the common type”. It usually appears on the face, neck, shoulders, upper back, and chest.  The hair follicles, or pores, in your skin contains sebaceous glands – also known as oil glands. These glands make sebum, which is an oil that lubricates your hair and skin. Generally, the sebaceous glands make the right amount of sebum but as the body begins to mature and develop, hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands to make more sebum.  Pores can become clogged if there is too much sebum and too many dead skin cells. Bacteria can get trapped inside these pores and multiply, causing swelling and redness — the start of acne. Teenagers are more prone to acne because of the hormonal changes occurring due to the pubertal changes happening within the body.

When a pore gets blocked up and closes but bulges out from the skin, you are left with a whitehead.

If a pore gets blocked up but stays open, the top surface can darken and you’re left with a blackhead.

Sometimes the wall of the pore opens, allowing sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cells to make their way under the skin — and you’re left with a small, red lump called a pimple –  pimples can have a pus-filled top due to the body’s reaction to the bacterial infection.

Blocked pores that open up very deep in the skin can cause swelling, which can turn into infected lumps that are bigger than pimples and can be extremely painful.


Acne, in this day and age, is a fact of life and not just something that teenager’s experience.  Acne is becoming increasingly common amongst adults for various reasons – diet being a key contributor.  

The good news is that Acne is treatable – either by targeted medication from a doctor, over the counter by a pharmacist or through a realm of natural remedies.