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is a skin condition that is common in adolescents. It usually gets better over time, and is usually gone by about age 25. Acne can continue into adulthood for some people.

Different types of acne:

Acne most often appears on the face, neck, upper chest, back, and upper arms.

  • Whiteheads are closed, white bumps that form when the pore is completely blocked.
  • Blackheads are tiny, dark spots that form when the pore is blocked but stays open.
  • Pimples are inflamed bumps that contain pus. They are often caused by clogged pores. Pimples develop when whiteheads or blackheads get infected.
  • Cystic acne is made up of large inflamed nodules or cysts that contain pus. They look like large pimples and form deep inside the skin. They may cause pain and scars.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You use retinoid medicine and you think you might be pregnant.
  • You use retinoid medicine and begin to have mood swings or personality changes.
  • You feel depressed.
  • You have a fever and inflammation of your skin.
  • Your acne does not get better, even after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


depends on how severe your acne is. Your healthcare provider may recommend any of the following:

  • Over-the-counter acne medicines with benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid may help to treat mild acne. They are available in the form of gels, lotions, creams, pads, or soaps. It may take several weeks for you to see an improvement. Follow the directions on the medicine label. Do not use more than directed. This medicine can cause dry and red skin if you use too much.
  • Prescription medicines may be needed if over-the-counter medicines do not help after 2 months. You may need to take more than one kind of medicine to treat your acne. This may include antibiotics that kill bacteria and help decrease swelling. A type of prescription acne medicine called retinoids may cause serious birth defects. Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or may become pregnant.
  • Light therapy may help decrease your acne. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about light therapy.

Manage or prevent acne:

  • Wash your face 2 times a day with a gentle cleanser. This helps decrease oil buildup that leads to acne. Also wash your face if you have been sweating a lot, such as after exercise.
  • Use oil-free products. This includes sunscreen, moisturizers, and cosmetics. Hair products should also be oil-free.
  • Regularly wash your hair to decrease oil. Oily hair that touches your face can increase acne.
  • Avoid touching your face as much as possible. Do not pick, squeeze, or pop your pimples. This can make your acne worse because your hands contain oil. It can also cause scars to form on your face.
  • Avoid things that rub against your skin as much as possible. This includes hats, helmets, and backpacks.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Acne (Ambulatory Care)

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.