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How Acne Forms

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Updated April 09, 2014

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Acne - Pimple
How Acne Forms
As the sebum from the sebaceous gland and sloughed skin cells, also known as corneocytes, build up they put pressure on the cells surrounding the pore. If enough pressure is exerted, the sides of the pore rupture and the sebaceous material leaks into the surrounding skin. Because the sebaceous material contains a lot of P. acnes bacteria, the surrounding skin now gets infected creating a red bump we know as a typical pimple. The medical term for this red bump is an inflammatory papule.

Medications that help at this stage include:

  • Over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide kills bacteria and helps prevent P. acnes from overgrowing.
  • Prescription tretinoin products like Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, and Avita reverse the "stickiness" of the skin cells allowing them to slough normally.
  • Over-the-counter salicylic acid 2% lotion is a beta hydroxy acid that also reverses the "stickiness" of the skin cells.
  • Prescription topical antibiotics kill the P. acnes bacteria and are often used if a person has some inflammatory papules.
  • Prescription oral antibiotics also kill the P. acnes bacteria and are often used if a person has a lot of inflammatory papules.
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