During adolescence your body goes through enormous changes and manufactures lots of hormones.
These cause the oil glands which lubricate your skin to go wild, pumping out oil, and causing dead skin cells to block pores (black- and white- heads). The perfectly normal bacteria on our skin and in our pores thrive in this oily environment, erupting into zits and cysts.
Up to 80% of people get acne during adolescence. It can also break out during pregnancy, periods, and the menopause. With many people it is mild and of short duration, but with a considerable number of people it is very nasty indeed, and may last beyond your early 20's. Like a very long time. I had it for 25 years. In about 30% of sufferers it doesn't go away of its own accord.
Unfortunately the medical profession didn't take it very seriously up until recently. Nor did they have a cure, only antibiotics, which "managed" the problem (i.e. didn't cure it). Fortunately that attitude is changing, and Isotretinoin (brand names: Accutane or Roaccutane) is available which does cure it in a great many cases.
SOS acne: save your skin
A commonsense guide to acne treatments
This is my 65 page booklet about acne, and what to do about it. Only valuable information validated by myself, fellow sufferers, or the medical profession, is included. It is regularly updated with peoples' tips and new information. It costs GBPounds 7.50.
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This site is copyright David Collins 2004. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this site, the author admits no liability for errors or omissions. All trademarks are acknowledged. This site is for your information only and is no substitute for proper medical treatment of your condition.