Acne is one of the most common, yet often misunderstood, skin conditions out there. Everyone will experience a breakout at some point in their life, and it is caused by a variety of factors. “Acne” is a term used to describe a wide range of symptoms. It tends to occur more when you’re going through puberty and other hormonal changes, like periods of stress. It can also occur more if you’re not washing your face at night or touching your face more often, but it can occur if you’re over-cleansing and irritating your skin as well. And some people get acne when they’re eating more dairy, simple carbohydrates, and fatty or oily foods.
There are a lot of different types of acne, and for all the various types of acne, there are even more ways to treat them.
Inflammatory acne is caused by pores that are deeply clogged with bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells. It is characterized by swelling and redness that can be painful at times. Depending on the severity it may require a visit to your dermatologist who can prescribe an oral antibiotic or medication that specifically targets acne. Women can also use birth control to help clear up these types of breakouts. If it is less severe, a combination of benzoyl peroxide and retinol may be prescribed. It is a long term condition that will require patience to minimize its impact.
These are the different types of inflammatory acne:
Cysts are a very noticeable type of acne that is defined by large bumps under the skin. They are a more rare form of acne than that of a whitehead or blackhead. Cysts are large and can be very painful. They must be treated by a dermatologist because no over the counter medicines will be powerful enough to clear these up.
Nodules are large inflamed bumps. These will feel firm to the touch and may be somewhat painful. This type of acne forms deep within the skin. Over the counter treatments will not work for this type of acne and it will need to be treated by a dermatologist.
Papules are far different from blackheads and whiteheads. Papules are comedones that have become inflamed. They form small red or maybe pink bumps on the skin. These are still considered pimples and they may be very sensitive to the touch. Picking at or squeezing papules will only further irritate them. Additional inflammation can also lead to scarring. If you are suffering from a large number of papules you may have severe acne and should speak with a doctor or dermatologist.
Pustules, like papules, are another type of inflamed acne. This type of lesion will have a lightly colored center area to it and a red ring around the bump. These bumps are filled with usually white, but sometimes yellow, pus and should not be picked at or squeezed. This is another type of blemish that may cause scarring. They may also leave behind dark spots on the skin (hyperpigmentation).
Non-inflammatory acne is defined by clogged pores and whiteheads. You can treat this type of acne with topical salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid to clear out the pores. You can also make a few lifestyle changes. Avoid over-cleansing the skin as this can increase oil production. Clean your pillowcases and phone screens often, and try to avoid dairy.
These are the types of non-inflammatory acne:
Acne Vulgaris is the medical name for the most common type of acne which is characterized by a variety of skin lesions. Non-inflammatory acne is considered to be the presence of blackheads and whiteheads on the skin. The most common places for acne to appear is on the face, chest, shoulders, and on the back. Acne Vulgaris can come in several different severities. If it is more severe then it will have to be treated by a dermatologist and may leave behind significant scarring. If it is less severe, over the counter medicines may be able to reduce the acne.
Comedones are considered to be basic acne lesions. They are hair follicles that have become clogged with oil and/or dead skin cells. These can develop into bumps called whiteheads but can also form into blackheads. Makeup is one of the largest causes of comedones. This is why there are several makeup brands that offer non-comedogenic products. These products are less likely to cause comedones to form. A comedone infected with bacteria becomes part of inflammatory acne.
Blackheads are clogged pores that are open at the very surface of the skin. The pores are filled with excess oil and dead skin cells and it is not dirt that makes these comedones appear black. This is one of the most common misconceptions concerning blackheads. They are dark due to oxidation that is happening at the surface of the skin. Blackheads are usually treated with over the counter medicines.
Whiteheads are another type of non-inflamed comedone. Affected pores stay closed at the surface of the skin, preserving the light color of the trapped debris, while blackheads are open at the surface allowing oxidation. Both are formed when oils and skin cells clog hair follicles. Many of the same over the counter medicines that treat blackheads will also treat whiteheads.
Acne sucks, and we all have to deal with it at some point. Knowing how to treat the various types of acne can help to keep breakouts at bay.