Different Kinds of Acne
Acne can be divided into three categories, each with their corresponding causes, types of infection, and treatments.
As the name explains, this type of acne involves no inflammation of a clogged pore. Non-inflammatory acne does not cause swelling and is typically painless.
Comedones are the primary types of non-inflammatory acne. These are more commonly referred to as blackheads and whiteheads. A single comedo refers to a hair follicle clogged by oil, skin cells, or other forms of debris that causes small bumps to appear on your skin. Whether the pore opening over a comedo is open or closed determines what type of acne it is.
Whiteheads are called closed comedones in medical terms. These bumps are small and white or yellowish in color and they’re usually surrounded by reddish and wrinkled skin.
Blackheads, or open comedones, are also caused by clogged follicles. However, since the affected pore remains open, the bump is exposed to oxygen. The material causing the clog begins to oxidize, giving blackheads their distinct black color.
It’s important to note that either type of comedo can cause an outbreak of pimples if they’re left untreated. Luckily, getting rid of them isn’t as difficult as other forms of acne.
There are plenty of over-the-counter solutions to comedones. Gels, moisturizers, and creams containing Ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can help break down whiteheads and blackheads effectively.
Alternatively, a few home remedies and lifestyle changes can be just as effective. Proper hygiene, a balanced diet, and managing your stress levels can all serve to eliminate and prevent the formation of these comedones.
Mild Inflammatory Acne
This type of acne is more aggressive than the non-inflammatory ones. These are usually more irritating than blackheads or whiteheads due to the swelling caused by bacteria or other agents. Pustules and papules are the most common types of mild inflammatory acne.
Pustules are small pimples on the skin that contain pus. They’re characterized by their white or yellowish color and red ring that surrounds the bump. Like any other form of acne, these are caused by clogged pores, but the inclusion of certain bacteria causes them to swell unlike normal whiteheads.
Papules are very similar to pustules in appearance, but they do not contain any pus or liquid inside them. These are red or pinkish bumps that often form clusters that resemble rashes.
Pustules and papules typically disappear over time. In case you feel like they’ve overstayed their welcome, you can try using acne medication or home remedies.
When cleaning acne-affected areas, try to use your fingers when scrubbing and avoid using washcloths. Rough materials may cause further irritation or cause pustules to burst if not handled carefully. Use soap and warm water when cleaning and try to avoid applying cosmetics on the affected area to prevent any more breakouts.
Severe Inflammatory Acne
Severe acne occurs when bacterial infection reaches deep beneath your skin. The resulting infections can result in the formation of either nodular or cystic acne.
Nodular acne, or simply nodules, is very similar to the other less serious forms of acne. However, instead of having acne “heads” on top of your skin, nodules lie deeper within. They may appear as simple red blemishes or skin-colored bumps and they are significantly more painful to the touch. These may also infect more than one pore at a time.
Cysts are just as severe as nodules. Pus-filled growths caused by any combination of oil, hair, and dead skin cells form deep within your pores, creating large and painful bumps. These cysts are often tender and reddish in color. They commonly occur in people with oily skin, but teenagers, women, and older adults may also experience this type of acne with some degree of frequency.
Unlike the milder forms of acne, nodules and cysts require more care and attention if you want to recover from them. Most over-the-counter products may offer some relief, but they usually aren’t enough to eliminate severe acne completely.
If you’re experiencing either type of acne, it would be best to consult a healthcare professional in order to receive a prescription. You can expect to get some antibiotics to help fight the bacterial build-up under your skin as well as some prescription-strength versions of benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.