Types of Acne and How to Treat Them
When it comes to skin, no one wants to deal with the dreaded condition that befalls each of us at some point in life: acne. The term acne is used generally to describe what you may have heard called a “breakout.” But the two are not always synonymous. Not all kinds of acne are spread across the entire face like a breakout generally is. And acne can be caused for several different reasons. To truly understand how to combat acne, it is important to thoroughly understand how it happens and why. If you have been dealing with different forms of acne and are ready to learn how to get clear skin again, check out these different types of acne and how to treat them.
What causes acne?
Acne can be caused by many different reasons. Sometimes the cause is topical and is attributed to conditions of the skin. This can include bacteria, dead skin cells, or ingrown hairs. It can also be caused by a buildup of excess oil, or sebum, on the skin. Acne can also be caused by hormonal fluctuations, which is why so many teenagers are troubled with acne during puberty. It is said that about 17 million Americans battle against acne, so it is definitely prevalent in any age group.
What are the different types of acne?
There are two different overall categories of acne, which are inflammatory and noninflammatory. Within these categories, there exist different kinds of inflammatory and noninflammatory acne.
Within this category, there are blackheads and whiteheads. You don’t normally experience inflammation and swelling with these two types. And they are treated pretty easily by over-the-counter products. Salicylic acid is a very well-marketed and beneficial product for this kind of acne. It helps to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells, which are the main culprits behind noninflammatory acne.
Blackheads — open comedones
Blackheads sprout up when a pore gets clogged with a mix of dead skin cells and sebum.
The pore continues to stay open on the top, even though the rest of the pore is clogged at the root. It can appear to be black on the surface, hence the name blackhead.
Whiteheads — closed comedones
Whiteheads are very similar to blackheads in that they are pores closed with dead skin cells and sebum. The difference is that the pore’s top surface closes up, making a protruding bump that rises up from the skin. Whiteheads are a bit more cumbersome in terms of treatment because the pore is closed. This is where salicylic acid comes in. Retinoids that you use topically are also great options for whiteheads.
Pimples that become inflamed and swollen are the kind of acne that is considered inflammatory. Sebum and dead skin are also behind this kind of acne, but bacteria is also at play causing inflammation and redness. This bacteria can take root under the skin and cause troublesome infections, making for a more painful bout of acne.
Products that work well for inflammatory acne include benzoyl peroxide and topical antibiotics. These kinds of products can reduce redness and swelling, as well as get rid of excess sebum and dead skin. What needs to be addressed with this kind of acne is killing off the bacteria.
One type of inflammatory acne is papules, which happen when the walls around the pore are broken down because of intense inflammation. The pore gets hard and clogged and is tender to the touch, resulting in pink inflamed skin around the pore.
Pustules can also happen when walls of pores are broken down, but this type also forms pus. The pore is filled with pus, and forms a white or yellow head on top. The surrounding area is usually red in color.
Nodules happen when the pores are swollen and clogged, but are further irritated and get even bigger. The nodules are rooted deep within the skin, unlike papules and pustules that rest on top of the skin. They cannot be treated as easily, and require the assistance of a dermatologist. They will likely prescribe an oral medication like isotretinoin. This will treat the problem with boosted levels of vitamin A, and is taken for up to six months.