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acne, common inflammatory disease of the hair follicles and sebaceous glands characterized by blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, nodules and, in the more severe forms, by cysts and scarring. The lesions appear on the face, neck, back, chest, and arms. There are several types of acne, including tropical acne, a condition of light-skinned people who are exposed to unaccustomed heat and humidity, and chloracne, a form resulting from exposure to chlorinated hydrocarbons.

The most common type is acne vulgaris, a form prevalent among adolescents. Although its exact cause is not known, it is undoubtedly related both to genetic predisposition and to the increased hormonal activity that occurs at puberty, which causes an overproduction of sebum, the oily secretion of the sebaceous glands. Exposure to external oils and grease (e.g., oil-based cosmetics or hair products, occupational use of cooking oils) can worsen the condition. There is no connection between diet and acne.

Washing the skin removes surface oils and can prevent acne from spreading. The contents of blackheads and pustular lesions should be evacuated only by a physician under proper aseptic conditions to lessen the possibility of scarring. Application of benzoyl peroxide, retinoic acid, azelaic acid, and antibiotics to the skin can clear many cases; exposure to ultraviolet light may also be used. More severe cases of acne may require oral antibiotic treatment. Treatment of the most resistant cases of acne includes the use of isotretinoin (Accutane), a drug that decreases sebaceous secretions. Isotretinoin is a well-established teratogen (i.e., it causes birth defects) and is not given to women who are pregnant. In the past dermabrasion (scraping off of the top layer of skin) was used to improve the appearance of skin scarred by acne, but such severe effects can now be avoided with proper treatment.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the name used to designate various skin eruptions that are often associated with functional disturbances of the sebaceous glands. There are several types of acne.

Common acne occurs during adolescence, usually on the face, chest, and back. It appears in the form of pink papules that may attain the size of a pea; these papules sometimes develop sebaceous plugs, or comedones, which often suppurate. The causes of common acne include hormonal changes, infections, and hereditary predisposition.

Rosacea is a type of acne that is most common in women over 40. It is marked by dilation of the capillaries of the facial skin (telangiectasis) and by the development of red papules that sometimes suppurate.

Some types of acne are caused by exposure to certain substances or by the use of some medicines. They include petroleum acne, which results from contact with petroleum products, and halogen acne, caused by the use of preparations of such halogens as bromine and iodine. Acne may also result from the use of hormonal preparations.

Acne is treated externally with suspensions, ointments, and the application of alcohol. General treatment includes physical therapy and the administration of vitamins, antibiotics, and hormones.


Kozhnye i venericheskie bolezni, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1975. Pages 236–38,242–44.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A pleomorphic, inflammatory skin disease involving sebaceous follicles of the face, back, and chest and characterized by blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, and nodules.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a chronic skin disease common in adolescence, involving inflammation of the sebaceous glands and characterized by pustules on the face, neck, and upper trunk
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Zits attempts to perform a warped version of the Ghost Dance fed to him by a white boy named Justice.
When a man points at him and tells him that he is "not real", Zits faces a moment of doubt about his own 'ghostliness' before he shoots the man in the face and then turns the guns in all directions.
Blitz those zits: If you have long hair, tie it back at night to avoid contact with the skin.
I explain that the life cycle of a zit, left alone, is about 6 weeks.
Imagine our zits having the effect of a Marilyn Monroe's beauty mole.
In the meantime I recommend the e.l.f Zit Zapper ( as it will deal with topical outbreaks and calm down any eruptions.
"Thus, we're canceling 'Mutts' as of this Monday [June 29] and replacing it with the acclaimed 'Zits,' in which artists Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman humorously and empathetically explore relationships between teenagers and their parents," the paper continued.
This is the sort of gear mere mortals wear when they've a face full of zits or PMT bloating.
The singer turned actress was sporting a nasty outbreak of zits as she waited for pals at a London cafe.
Geri spent several minutes checking her skin and getting rid of unwanted zits as she sat in traffic with a pal.
* POP YOUR ZITS? Popping pimples lets bacteria and dead cells spill onto the surface of surrounding skin, which can trigger more blemishes.
"Steener has all kinds of zits and stuff all over his face," and there's a photo guide to a key collegiate challenge: "Once late October rolls around, you'll probably want to get started on washing your first load of laundry."