Acne is a skin condition caused by the overproduction of sebum, a natural oil produced by the skin and hair. Teens are ready targets for acne because their rapidly changing hormones trigger an overproduction of sebum. Sebum can clog pores, trapping bacteria, and resulting in an infection called a pimple.

Acne can affect any age, but is most common in teens, with eight of 10 teens experiencing some degree of acne. A few pimples may not seem like much but it can be a big problem for an individual.

Acne is hereditary; if a parent had it, the child has a greater chance of getting it. Once you have acne, there is no cure for it, you have to wait for the infection (pimple) to heal. Check with your physician to see what treatments, either over-the-counter or prescription, may be effective for you. Effective treatments have changed so it's worth asking your health care provider about options.

The best treatment for acne is prevention. Following these simple steps may help:

Eat a balanced diet -- Whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables contain valuable natural phytochemicals and antioxidants that promote healing.

  • Drink lots of water. This helps get rid of skin debris.
  • Get some exercise. Activity increases blood flow to the skin. Wash your face after exercising.
  • Wash and rinse. Regular washing pulls away dead skin, oil, and bacteria. Don't scrub. It can irritate the skin and make it worse.
  • Use oil-free makeup, sunscreens, or lotions.
  • Wash your hair to keep oil from your face.
  • Remove all makeup before going to bed. Use mild cleansers like Cetaphil or Neutrogena to wash your face. Mild exfoliating cleansers and scrubs also may be used but ask your doctor first.

Acne myths

Myth: Only teens get acne.

Fact: Acne usually begins in the early teen years and subsides in the late teens to mid-20s. But many people develop it late in that cycle, or even in their late 20s or 30s. People can have acne at any age for many reasons.

Myth: Acne is related to diet.

Fact: Years of research show no correlation between diet and acne. Chocolate has been off the forbidden list since the mid 1960s. Other equally appealing foods--sugar, greasy foods, milk, and seafood--don't result in acne in the general population. If a certain food triggers acne for you, avoid the food. You may have an allergy to it.

Myth: Frequent face washing helps clear up acne.

Fact: Acne is not caused by dirt or poor hygiene. Aggressive scrubbing does not affect the oil deep in your pores where acne starts. Frequent and aggressive scrubbing can actually harm your skin, irritating it, and making the acne worse. Use your hands to gently wash your face, the rough texture of a washcloth may also irritate your skin.

Myth: Popping pimples helps.

Fact: It may seem to make them less noticeable for a while, but the practice actually can cause them to stay around longer. Squeezing pimples pushes the bacteria further into the skin, causing more redness and swelling.

Myth: Acne has to run its course.

Fact: There are successful treatments available for acne.

Medical Services