How Long Does Acne Last?
Acne is a common skin condition that shows up when you least expect it and can be almost impossible to get rid of. Acne can cause you emotional distress, irritate your skin, and can be extremely painful, especially when it is severe. Over time, these red or discolored bumps can cause scarring, making it extremely challenging to maintain a social lifestyle.
Fortunately, there are a few tested and effective acne treatments that could potentially help you prevent and treat acne. However, finding the right acne treatment for your skin type can be quite daunting, so it is important to consult a dermatologist before buying acne cream online. But in addition to understanding what causes acne and how to treat acne, most people also want to know how long acne lasts.
What is Acne?
Acne is a skin condition that usually starts when the oil secreted by the skin's sebaceous glands clogs or blocks your pores. Depending on the size of the pores, acne manifests as either whiteheads (small, flesh-colored bumps) or blackheads (small, flat spots with dark centers.
These clogged pores often become tender, swollen inflammations, pus-filled pimples, nodules, or deeper lumps. Most nodules associated with severe acne (cystic acne) appear as firm swellings beneath the skin that may become tender, inflamed, or even infected.
Even though acne is often associated with adolescence, approximately 20% of all acne cases occur in adults. Typically, acne starts during puberty between the ages of 10–13 and tends to be more severe in individuals with oily skin.
Teenage acne can last between 5–10 years, meaning it might go away in the early 20s. This acne affects both sexes, with teenage boys having more severe cases. However, women are more likely to have mild to moderate acne into their 30s and even beyond.
Acne usually appears on the face but may sometimes occur on the neck, shoulders, upper arms, chest, and back. Individuals who were lucky enough to escape acne in their teens are more likely to develop persistent adult-onset acne when they get older.
Although most people think acne is brought about by the increase in androgen levels during puberty, doctors believe that acne flare-ups have less to do with androgen levels than how people's skin responds to increased sebum production or acne-causing bacteria.
Propionibacterium acnes naturally occur in healthy hair follicles, and when they accumulate in clogged follicles, they secrete enzymes that cause inflammation and break down sebum. However, some people are more sensitive to this reaction than others. Sebum levels can cause widespread outbreaks of acute cystic acne in one person and a pimple or two in another.
What Causes Acne?
Contrary to what most people believe, acne is not caused by poor hygiene, an uncontrolled sex drive, or a harmful diet. Scrubbing your face 10 times a day or swearing off chocolate will not change your predisposition to this unsightly and painful skin condition. Here are a few of the reasons behind most forms of acne:
- Bacteria: The excess sebum production can cause your pores to clog—especially those on your face, neck, chest, and back. Bacteria grow in these clogged pores, forming comedones (blackheads or whiteheads) on the skin's surface.
More often than not, these clogs cause the follicle wall to break due to the pressure of the buildup. This then allows sebum to leak into nearby tissues forming papules or pustules called inflammatory acne or large pustules and nodules.
When your skin's oil glands are hormonally stimulated, they enlarge to pump more oil, making them sensitive and overactive. Most pre-existing pimples and whiteheads within your pores often form infected blemishes. Bacteria can also get trapped in clogged pores causing them to multiply, making the skin inflamed and sensitive
- Contraceptives: Some types of contraceptive pills can trigger the occurrence of acne in some women and suppress it in others. Some intrauterine birth control devices (IUD) and injectable contraceptives can cause acne. Steroids taken by athletes such as bodybuilders are also known to cause severe outbreaks
- Hormones: Most acne cases in teenagers are instigated by an increase in hormone production. Both boys and girls produce high levels of androgens during puberty. The testosterone produced in males signals the body to produce more sebum leading to acne outbreaks.
What Are Some of the Signs of Acne?
- The constant development of red spots or swelling on the skin surface. These swellings may be inflamed and filled with pus. They often appear on the face, neck, shoulders, or back
- Lumps or nodules beneath the skin are filled with fluid, inflamed, and tender. Nodules can grow as large as an inch across
- Tiny white bumps (whiteheads) under the skin with no obvious opening
- Dark spots (blackheads) with open pores at the center
- Red lumps or swellings (papules) that are filled with pus
When to Consult Your Doctor About Acne
- If your acne causes the production of nodules under the skin or persistent pimples, you will need a prescription or recommendation from a dermatologist to control them and avoid permanent scars
- If it becomes very painful or irritates your skin
- When it produces scars
- If it doesn't respond to over-the-counter medication; you might need a more aggressive form of treatment
- If your acne causes dark patches to appear
How Long Does Acne Last?
Typically, acne can take anywhere between 1-2 weeks to form and fully develop. They seem like they appear overnight, but technically, they take weeks to develop and form. Acne often manifests as microscopic bumps that are not visible.
Acne has several subtypes, such as acne infantum and acne neonatorum, which occasionally affect infants and newborns (usually boys). They manifest as pimply rashes, usually on the face, that take weeks to clear with no permanent effect. However, acne infantum can be more severe, last longer, and cause scarring.
It is common for acne to develop at the age of 10 and last between 5-10 years or, in some cases, throughout your adult life. Acne might go away with time, but that may require aggressive treatment. Have a dermatologist examine and run full diagnostics on your skin so they can prescribe a form of treatment that beats over-the-counter medications.
Most mild cases of acne take 1-2 weeks to clear on their own, while others take 6 weeks. Even though acne is impossible to cure overnight, it can be treated with home remedies, creams, topical products such as PurClarity's Revitalizing Mist, and prescribed medication.
However, even with these statistical averages, it is difficult to deliberate how long acne lasts for each person. Some young adults and teens find their acne improves as they grow, while others get more severe with age.
Consult Your Doctor on How to Get Rid of and Prevent Acne
Different types of acne require a different amount of time to go away, while others tend to stick around or even worsen with time. Some red bumps may never turn into whiteheads, while cystic breakouts develop for weeks before forming on the skin's surface.
Identifying the kind of acne you have and determining where it is in its life cycle can help you determine the right acne treatment for you. However, seeking intervention from your dermatologist would be the best action.