What is Acne Vulgaris?

Acne Vulgaris - Photo © A.D.A.M.

Acne vulgaris is another name for common acne.  Photo © A.D.A.M.

Updated June 16, 2014.

Question: What is Acne Vulgaris?

I just saw a doctor about my skin problem. His diagnosis: acne vulgaris. I’m nervous, because I’ve never heard of this type of acne before. What is acne vulgaris? And how did I get it?


Relax, you don’t have a strange form of acne. In fact, quite the opposite. Acne vulgaris is the term used to describe good ol’ common acne. Rest assured, most people have suffered from acne vulgaris at some point in their lives.

People with acne vulgaris get blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples (zits). Acne vulgaris may be mild for some people, with just a few blemishes here and there. For others, acne vulgaris becomes more severe.

Breakouts aren’t always limited to the face. You may find yourself breaking out on the neck, chest, back, and shoulders too.

You didn’t do anything to cause your acne vulgaris, and you didn’t catch it either. Acne vulgaris appears when oil and skin cells become trapped in the pore. If bacteria invade, an inflamed pimple can erupt.

What you’re eating isn’t causing acne vulgaris either, although some doctors now theorize that certain foods may worsen existing acne cases. The most commonly linked foods include dairy and carbohydrates.

Lucky for you, acne vulgaris is treatable. Your doctor can give you a prescription medication that will help. If your acne is fairly mild, you may even be able to get it under control with over-the-counter products.

Even though acne vulgaris is common, you don’t want to ignore it. Mild cases sometimes progress into more serious forms. Severe acne can damage the skin to the point of scarring. It’s a great reason to start treatment now.

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