Zits. Pimples. Teenager Bumps. Acne.
A condition by any other name is still pretty tough to deal with during that all important phase of development called adolescence.
Those who suffer this skin scourge sometimes become self-conscious or withdrawn. Often, they are the victims of taunting and name calling.
But that's not always the case.
As a matter of fact, clear-skinned Gary Wingfield didn't even notice that his close friend Daniel McKay once had severe acne.
Both are seniors at Avonworth High School in Pittsburgh. Daniel's case was so bad that he was treated with the controversial drug Accutane for 61/2 months. This course of action included a 1-inch-thick instruction book and monthly blood tests to check for any possible liver damage and elevated triglyceride levels. Fatigue, another side effect, put a damper on Daniel's senior soccer season, he said.
Accutane has also been blamed for a number of teen suicides, so his parents had to watch carefully for any mood swings.
However, Daniel's treatment and even the fact that he had acne is not something he and Gary ever discussed. Acne, they said, is not a guy topic.
"It's not really a code of silence," Gary said. "It's just something we don't really focus upon."
Actually, Gary, 17, said his mother is the one who called his attention to his friend's skin problem. "She asked if Dan was breaking out," Gary recalled.
Christine Matviko, 18, a senior at Leechburg Area High School in Leechburh, Pa., said she'd never heard of Accutane. Her friends who have acne "just take over-the-counter (treatments). It seems to be working for them."
Like Gary's, Christine's smooth complexion has not known the ravages of acne. But she can relate to the fact that appearance is important, especially to teens and young adults.
"Everyone values how they look, and a big part of high school is how you look, how you're perceived," Christine said.
Daniel, 17 said having acne made him self-conscious.
"(Acne) takes someone who is outgoing and makes them less outgoing than before," he said.
He said several students had approached him to ask about Accutane since his first-person piece was published.
"I think you have to carefully consider the potential benefits and also the side effects," Daniel said, adding that he doesn't regret taking it.
But what if the shoe were on the other foot? Would one date someone with severe acne?
"It's definitely a factor but not a deciding factor," Gary said. "I think some people associate it with not being clean."
Daniel said that belief is a common fallacy, that acne has more to do with skin type than cleanliness. He admitted that severe acne might give him pause when considering dating a girl.
"It would depend. It might make me think less of the person," he said.
He later qualified his statement, saying that he wouldn't think less of the person's character. But, he noted, treatment is available.
And if the glowing skin of Gary and Christine was plagued by those nasty white postules, would others treat them differently?
"I think it would more affect me with guys than girls," Christine said. "Girls talk about skin problems, but it doesn't affect how they treat each other."
Gary believes that since he often checks his appearance in the mirror, he'd constantly be reminded of his skin condition. Senior high school students are very concerned with their appearance, he said, but they're less likely to be teased about it than junior high or middle school students.