What is Acne? Acne affects 95 percent of all people, and nearly 50 million Americans. To put this into perspective, Americans alone spend more than $1.4 billion a year to treat their acne. Although most believe acne is only a physical effect, it also makes a lasting impact emotionally. A pimple is born when oil from hair and skin, called sebum, is combined with dead skin cells. Acne pops up most during the teenage years due to rising hormone levels, causing increased oil production.