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Acne is a skin disorder which affects nearly 20 million Americans, both young and old. A result of action of hormones on the skin's oil or sebaceous glands which leads to blocked pores, acne lesions are frequently called zits or pimples. This dermalogical condition can occur virtually anywhere on the body, but usually centers around the face, neck, chest, shoulders, and back.

The cause of acne has not yet been pinpointed, but physicians hypothesize that it can come from a variety of factors. A key element is the rise in male sex hormones called androgens. These hormones increase in both males and females during puberty, causing the oil glands to expand and produce an excess of sebum. Another hormonal change that results in acne is pregnancy, or the use of birth control pills. Genetics is another factor in the development of this troubling skin disorder. Many researchers have discovered that acne can in fact be inherited from an individual's parents. Numerous studies have demonstrated that school-age males afflicted with acne have a family history of the problem.

Acne is primarily treated by doctors who specialize in skin problems, called dermatologists. The dermatologist's main goal is to remedy the existing acne, halt fresh lesions from developing, and prevent scarring. Drug therapy is used for those suffering from moderate to severe forms of acne. The dermatologist can recommend one of many over-the-counter medications, or he can prescribe medicine to be applied to the skin, or taken orally. The doctor will frequently prescribe oral antibiotics, for these are thought to assist in the control of lesions by reducing inflammation and inhibiting the growth of bacteria. Occasionally, several medications are combined for maximum results.

Acne can affect anyone, at any age, anytime. However, it is most common in the teenage years and early adulthood. Approximately 85 percent of individuals between 12 and 24 will develop this skin disorder. Acne usually gradually disappears by the time people reach their thirties. Unfortunately for some, this disfiguring ailment can continue well on into their fifties and sixties.