If you’ve noticed some kind of acne lesion on your face, chest, back, or shoulders, and you don’t know or you’re unsure which of the different types of acne is causing you emotional distress, you’re not alone. We hear you, so we’ve done proper research in order to provide you with a detailed explanation of each acne type so that you will be able to identify your type(s) of acne with ease.
Many people who are prone to acne are unsure about the specific acne types that are affecting them. This is especially true given that two or more types of acne are often present at the same time. It is vital to learn to put your finger (pardon the pun) on the exact type of acne that you may be prone to in order to seek the right treatment and prevent complications such as scarring, pitting, and dark spots.
Without further ado, here’s a breakdown of the different types of acne, including non-inflammatory and inflammatory to help you recognize the one(s) that you may be affected by.
Whiteheads are caused by clogged hair follicles. This mild type of acne consists of small whitish or skin-tone bumps that stay closed because the dead skin cells and excess sebum prevent the follicles from opening. Although whiteheads are typically not painful, you may notice a reddish halo around the bumps. It’s also worth noting that although they may be significantly raised and quite visible, scarring due to whiteheads is rare.
Clogged hair follicles also cause blackheads, which are small and blackish or dark-colored spots that are just slightly raised, compared to whiteheads. Blackheads are comedones that have opened, which is why they’re not as raised as whiteheads. The dark color does not indicate that dirt has accumulated. The explanation is that when a comedone opens and is thus exposed to air, it darkens. Blackheads are unaesthetic, but generally, they are not painful.
Papules typically appear as a result of extensive irritation of the skin caused by a large number of whiteheads and even blackheads. Papules are typically sensitive to the touch. What differentiates papules from whiteheads is that papules do not have that visible, considerably raised white center. Instead, they appear as pink or reddish bumps that may be somewhat raised. A smaller number of papules may indicate mild acne, while a larger number may be indicative of moderate acne.
Also known as pimples, pustules typically appear as larger, pus-filled, and inflamed whiteheads. These visible and tender bumps are surrounded by a red and swollen area, which looks like a ring, and they may be moderately painful. Squeezing or picking can aggravate the inflammation in the short term and increase the risk of scarring and pitting in the long term, so be sure not to do that. The presence of pustules is typically associated with a moderate form of acne. The causes of pimples can range from hormonal and emotional/stress, to inflammatory and infectious.
Nodules are very large and visibly inflamed bumps, but unlike pustules, they have no visible head. Their presence indicates a moderate to severe form of acne called nodular acne. Nodules do not only feel quite firm to the touch, but they are also usually very painful. They tend to form in the deeper layers of the skin, due to extensive damage to the cells and tissues deep within the skin as a result of clogged pores.
Cysts look like boils and generally indicate the presence of cystic acne, which is the most severe inflammatory type of acne. Cysts are typically very large, filled with yellowish or whitish pus, and extremely painful. It’s worth noting that cysts form in the deepest layers of the skin and they generally require prescription medication for severe acne. However, it’s highly important to follow a proper skincare routine to keep cystic acne under control.
Knowing what are the different types of acne can help you identify the exact type(s) that you may be prone to or affected by with ease. Keep in mind that whiteheads and blackheads are considered non-inflammatory types of acne. Inflammatory acne types include papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts.