Acne Facts and Statistics: What You Need to Know

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Acne (acne vulgaris) is a common skin condition that occurs when your pores become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, resulting in bumps known as pimples. There are several forms of acne, and the breakouts can range from mild to severe. It's estimated that roughly 50 million people in the United States have acne.

This article provides an overview of important facts and statistics you should know about acne.

Woman applying acne cream on her face for acne.

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Acne Overview

Acne is a skin condition that causes certain types of bumps known as:

  • Blackheads: Clogged pores with a black speck in the middle
  • Whiteheads: Raised, flesh-colored bumps that appear "closed" or clogged
  • Papules: Inflamed red or darker colored bumps; known as pimples
  • Pustules: Red bumps with pus
  • Cysts: Deep inflammation that results in a bump with pus
  • Nodules: Deep inflammation when a cyst ruptures under the surface that results in a bump (without pus) and is hard to the touch

It's possible to have more than one type of acne at the same time.

While acne can appear anywhere on the body, it's most often found on parts of the skin where there are more oil glands (sebaceous glands). This includes the face and other body areas like the neck, chest, shoulders, upper back, and buttocks.

How Common Is Acne?

Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. About 85% of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience at least minor acne.

Data from 2013 reveal that more than 5.1 million people in the United States visited a healthcare provider to receive acne treatment that year. Most of these patients were children and adults up to 44 years old.

Acne Around the World

Researchers estimate that acne affects more than 9% of the global population, making it one of the top 10 most prevalent diseases worldwide.

Acne by Age & Gender

While acne can develop at any age, it typically starts in puberty and is common among adolescents and teens. Around 85% of teenagers experience acne at some point.

A growing body of research shows that acne can also start during or continues into adulthood. This seems particularly true for adult women. Some studies have found that acne affects 15% or more of women age 25–45. These statistics align with older evidence estimating that acne affects women (9.81%) slightly more than men (8.96%).

Acne is also possible in newborns, with roughly 20% of babies younger than 6 weeks developing neonatal acne.

Acne by Ethnicity

Acne can affect people of all ethnic backgrounds. At least one study suggests that acne may be more common in Black and Latinx women compared to Asian and White women. More evidence is needed to confirm these findings about how skin color may be impacted by acne.

Causes of Acne and Risk Factors

Acne develops when the tiny openings in your skin (known as pores) become blocked by oil and skin debris. This is likely to happen when there's a combination of excessive oil production, a buildup of dead cells, and bacterial growth on the skin. This may lead to inflammation and the formation of inflammatory acne lesions (papules, pustules, cysts, and nodules).

Experts think acne can be triggered by a variety of causes, including:

  • Hormones: An imbalance in hormone levels, like during puberty or the menstrual cycle, is a likely cause of acne development.
  • Family history: A close relative with acne increases your chances of developing the condition.
  • Medications: Drugs like corticosteroids and anticonvulsants have been shown to promote acne.

Risk Factors

Certain factors can make acne worse. Researchers are looking into the role of specific risk factors in acne development and worsening. They include:

  • Stress
  • Sleep
  • Diet
  • Makeup and hair products
  • Environmental irritants (pollution and humidity)
  • Skin picking
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Pressure or friction (tight clothing, sports gear, and backpacks)

While these factors may provide clues on how to prevent or treat acne, there's no surefire way to predict who will experience acne and when it will develop.

Cost of Acne

Having acne can be expensive. A 2013 survey estimates that the costs of acne treatment and lost productivity among patients and caregivers were more than $1 billion.

Coping With Acne

Acne isn't just skin deep. Because it visibly affects your appearance, acne can negatively impact a person's self-esteem, regardless of age. Some research estimates that around one in three people with acne experience depression.

If you or someone you know is experiencing depression or having suicidal thoughts, seek immediate assistance by calling 911 or contacting the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 for support.


Acne is a skin condition that develops when your pores get clogged, leading to different types of bumps or pimples. This is thought to happen when the skin has overactive oil glands, a slower cell-shedding process, and higher levels of certain bacteria.

Most teenagers have experienced acne, and the condition appears to be increasingly affecting women into their 30s and 40s. Various factors likely trigger or worsen acne, including genetics, hormones, stress, diet, smoking, and cosmetic products.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Cristina Mutchler
Cristina Mutchler is an award-winning journalist with more than a decade of experience in national media, specializing in health and wellness content.