It’s A Common Question: What Is Acne?

Image of a girl at night time, she wears her hair up and she has acne

You are most certainly not alone in asking this, many people up and down the country are asking the same questions: “Why am I getting spots?”, “why do spots keep coming back?”, “Is acne a common skin problem?”.

There are loads of myths all over the internet and social media about causes of spots, particularly teenage spots. Not to mention the plethora of weird and wonderful magic cures (toothpaste, snail slime, cat litter clay anyone??). We’re sure you’ve heard many of them before: “Only teenagers get acne”. “Acne only affects people with oily skin”. “Greasy foods cause acne”.  “You need to wash your face more”. “You need to stop wearing makeup”. We want to let you know the facts about acne to help you understand it better. When you understand acne, you can choose the right anti-blemish or anti-acne skincare regime for you.

We’re here to help clear things up.

What is acne?

It’s a common skin condition that affects most people at some point in their life (about 95% of 11-30 years olds experience acne to some extent and can affect a wide range of ages, commonly starting the teens, but can be experienced well beyond that.

In teenage years, acne can more commonly affect males, but in later life, this flips and adult acne more often affects women.  There is no set age when you should ‘grow out of acne’, though it does often settle down in late teens and early 20s.

It can vary in severity from a few blackheads and pimples every now and again, which can be self-treated, to more severe inflammatory cysts and nodules which need medical attention. There are a few different types of acne, with acne vulgaris being the most common, and the one you will most likely think of when anyone says they have ‘acne’. Other different types of acne include acne rosacea and acne mechanica.

What is acne vulgaris?

  1. The group of bacteria that cause acne (Cutibacterium acnes or C. acnes) is already present on the skin, part of what’s called your normal flora or ‘microbiome’. C acnes likes to live in the oilier areas of the skin and in particular in the oil ducts and hair follicles. The microbiome has been found to be slightly different in people with acne, including a loss of balance between the different types of C.acnes.
  2. There are tiny openings in the skin, known as pores or hair follicles, which can become blocked by excess oil (sebum) and dead skin cells. Excess oil and increased skin cell shedding are common in people with acne. The blocked pores are known as comedones or as most of us know (and definitely don’t love) them: blackheads and whiteheads! The excess oil favours the growth of C.acnes bacteria.
  3. The C. acnes bacteria thrives and multiplies in the oily blocked pores of the hair follicles. The bacteria can trigger an inflammatory response in the area, aka the redness, and sometimes painful spots!

As you see, there’s way more to it than just ‘teenage spots caused by changing hormone levels’.

Benzoyl peroxide in Acnecide Medicinal Treatments is an active ingredient that is applied topically (i.e. to the skin surface) and helps to fight acne spots in two ways:

  1. Helps kill up to 95% of the bacteria that causes acne.
  2. Dries up oiliness and deeply exfoliates dead skin cells to help unclog and reduce blocked pores.
Last reviewed May 2021.



Writer and expert