Acne Awareness Month — Information from AboutKidsHealth

September is Acne Awareness Month. Learn about acne and the importance of acne treatment with information from AboutKidsHealth.

What is acne?

Acne is the most common skin disease. It affects 85% of teenagers, some as young as 12 years old. Acne begins in the teen years due to an increase in sebum during puberty, and it often continues into adulthood.

There are different types of acne. These include:

  • open comedo (“blackhead”) — level with the skin surface and cannot be removed by normal washing of the face

  • closed comedo (“whitehead”) — slightly raised from the skin, no inflammation

  • papules — red, small, hard bumps that are slightly raised on the skin, which are caused by inflammation and appear in clusters

  • pustules — red, inflamed circles with a central, raised bump that is yellowish or white and contains pus due to inflammation

  • nodules — deep, red, round bumps that can have a diameter of 6mm to 20mm, sometimes referred to as cysts

Causes of acne

When excess oil mixes with dead skin cells, it can clog hair follicles and pores. This triggers white blood cells to be sent to the area, and inflammation may develop.

Acne most commonly appears on the face, scalp, back and chest because this is where the most sebum is produced.

Why treat acne?

If left untreated, some acne can cause scarring. In addition to using other treatments, people with acne should avoid manipulating, squeezing and popping their blemishes, as this increases the likelihood of scarring.

Any amount of acne can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life, particularly for teenagers. Reactions can range from minimal distress to more significant depression, anxiety and, less commonly, thoughts of suicide or self-harm. For these reasons, treating acne matters.

Learn more about the different types of acne and how they’re treated in the AboutKidsHealth article, Acne.

AboutKidsHealth is SickKids’ health-education website and features more than 3,500 articles on a range of health topics. For more information on dermatology, visit