Also known as: pimps, zits, blackheads, whiteheads, acne vulgaris

What is acne?

Acne is a very common skin problem of children and teenagers (mostly 11 plus years of age, but can be earlier as puberty starts earlier, or later) where the oil (sebum) of the glands around the base of a hair follicle can't reach the surface of the skin because the pores (tiny holes on the skin) that allow it to reach the surface of the skin are blocked (plugged/clogged) by dead skin and oils.

This plug/pimple is called a comedone which may be open (blackheads) or closed (whiteheads). These may be infected by bacteria on the skin which may result in red painful bumps (sores) called pustules, or present as papules, nodules or cysts.

What causes acne?

Acne usually begins around puberty as during that time male sex hormones increase in both boys and girls resulting in increased production of sebum and dead skin. Acne often occurs in families so a genetic predisposition may be present. Other contributing causes include certain drugs (corticosteroids), wearing irritating clothes, using makeup that can block the pores, increased humidity and stress.

What are the symptoms of acne?

Acne can occur anywhere there are sebaceous glands present- commonly on the face, chest, upper back and neck. Symptoms include whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, nodules (solid raised bumps) pustules (pus filled) or papules. They can be white, black, or red in appearance. Some children with severe acne may be left with permanent scarring of the skin.

What are acne care options?

There are many over-the counter topical (on the skin) and oral prescribed medications, and therapies for acne depending on your child's age, symptoms and severity. The Dermatologists at Nicklaus Children's Hospital will discuss with you and your child all the options available to achieve the best results.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: July 12, 2021 01:59 PM

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