Inflammatory Acne

Different Types of Acne That Are Most Common

Typically the term ‘breakout’ can range in meaning from one or two blemishes to multiple clusters of acne. For those who aren’t so lucky, dealing with the horrors of acne can be a universal and painful experience. Gone are the days of assuming acne was something only dealt with during teenage years. In fact, statistics say that 80% of individuals experience acne between the ages of 11-30 years old. That’s well into adulthood! A prevalent and pervasive issue, many studies have been uncovering the different causes, types, and ways to combat acne issues. Understanding the different types of acne is the first step in gathering a better understanding.

Not All Acne is Created Equal

There are a few different variables that attribute to the appearance of acne. Such as:

  • bacteria
  • dead skin cells
  • excess sebum production (oily skin)
  • fluctuating hormones
  • clogged pores
  • inconsistent skin cleansing

Any one of these factors, or a combination of them, can wreak absolute havoc on the skin. Now that the various causes of acne have been uncovered, we’re left to wonder about the different types of acne that can result. While acne is incredibly common, accurate and verifiable information regarding the varying types, sometimes seems scarce. Having the correct information can be what helps ultimately provide clearer skin. The first step is being able to identify acne via types of acne pictures correctly. Visual aids and representations often assist more than a worded explanation. It’s vital to realize there is:

  • noninflammatory acne
  • inflammatory acne

Inflammatory acne tends to be much more noticeable to the naked eye. However, both kinds of acne can be widespread, chronic and incredibly worrisome. Herein, we will explore the different subtypes of acne as well as specific treatment options.

Noninflammatory Acne

Blackheads – also known as open comedones, a blackhead is the occurrence of excess oil, otherwise known as sebum, and dead skin cells. The top part of the pore remains open, which gives it the notable black color. Aside from the top, the rest of the pore is completely clogged.

Whiteheads– also known as closed comedones, are the exact opposite of a blackhead. The very top of the pore does close. This makes this type of non inflammatory acne a bit harder to treat than a blackhead. Salicylic acid has been known to combat the appearance of whiteheads. One specific study also found that the acne cream Differin, which is known in clinical spaces as adapalene, helps to counteract the appearance of whiteheads as well.

Inflammatory Acne

Inflammatory Acne

This is the type of acne that most people dread and agonize over. The kind of blemishes that inflame the skin and become noticeably raised. While dead skin cells and sebum readily contribute to this kind of acne as well, so does the presence of bacteria. A recent article explored how bacteria often causes specific skin infections that can cause blemishes which become chronic and are exceptionally difficult to get rid of. Below are the differing types of acne that can be nearly impossible to hide.

Papules– when the walls that surround the pores suffer from inflammation, papules occur. This causes your clogged pores to harden and become incredibly tender to the touch. A type of discoloration often results and turns the blemish pink. Certain types of light therapy have been shown to be effective in combating this type of inflammatory acne. Light therapy can be a bit more costly than topical skincare products, but for some, it provides excellent results.

Pustules– these are sometimes present alongside papules. They are formed when the walls that surround the pores breakdown. The one difference between papules and pustules is evident in the name of the latter. Pustules are filled with pus and usually turn a reddish color on the outside- though they are also known to sometimes appear yellow and white on top as well. This type of acne can become unsightly very quickly.

Nodules– when pores become swollen from irritation combined with clogging, nodules start to develop deep underneath the skin. These can be incredibly painful and shouldn’t typically be treated at home. Your dermatologist may also prescribe you with some form of oral medication which may be a concentrated amount of vitamin A. This helps to decrease the actual gland size that resides in the pores. The popular drug isotretinoin, otherwise known as Sotret Accutane, has been shown in various studies to be a helpful long term treatment option for this type of acne.

Cysts– these develop when the clogging of dead skin cells, bacteria and sebum combine. These begin and exist further beneath the surface than nodules. The largest form of acne, they can become quite sizable. Cystic acne is one of the most difficult to treat types of chronic acne around. In cases of very severe cysts, dermatologists have needed to remove cysts surgically.

What type of acne do you have? Watch this video for more information:

What Works to Combat Acne?

What type of acne do I have? One of the two common questions typically asked by acne sufferers. The other one is how to treat acne properly? This depends because acne is caused by different things in different people. One of the biggest elements to remember is all acne treatments take time. There is no such thing as a quick fix. Especially for acne that is troublesome and keeps reappearing after various other treatment options.

Another vital aspect of uncovering what’s causing your acne, and how to heal it properly, is to ensure you are suffering from acne in the first place. Certain skin conditions sometimes may be mistaken for the appearance of acne. These are:

  • keratosis pilaris
  • rosacea
  • sebaceous filaments
  • folliculitis
  • milia

The confusion that can sometimes come with the state of the skin and certain outbreaks is the principle reason visiting a dermatologist for an official diagnosis is so crucial. Guessing won’t get you very far, and all acne treatments don’t necessarily work the best on all the different types of acne out there.

Common Treatment Options for Acne

When it comes to the most common and prescribed medications to treat acne, there are a few that typically stand out. These are:

  • Topical and oral antibiotics, such as doxycycline, clindamycin, tetracycline.
  • Salicylic acid, such as Stridex and many over the counter acne fighting face products.
  • Retinoids, such as adapalene, Tazorac, and tretinoin.
  • Benzoyl peroxide, such as Brevoxyl and Triaz

Explanations of Acne Treatment Option

Oral antibiotics– a popular option called doxycycline is used specifically for acne that is caused by bacterial infections. This study explores how it inhibits the overall growth of the bacteria which helps to calm perpetual acne outbreaks. This oral medication comes in both tablet and syrup form.

acne treatment

Salicylic acid– a component that is found in many popular and well-known acne treatment brands. It helps to unclog pores which aid in the prevention of new lesions and blemishes. One of the drawbacks of this method of treatment is that it’s continuously required to work. Once the skin care regimens including salicylic acid are stopped, the pores will begin to clog, and the breakouts will likely come back.

Retinoids– first approved for use on the skin in 1971, many people have found success with the use of retinoids. Similarly to salicylic acid, the active ingredients within the cream help to prevent dead skin cells from clogging pores. Retinoid cream has also been shown to reduce the appearances of the scars acne leaves behind. There are also retinoid pills that can be taken orally that curb inflammation, bacteria and the overproduction of sebum.


Benzoyl peroxide – another ingredient often found in many acne skin care products on the market. It’s ideal for oily skin and reduces the frequent blockages caused by dead skin cells. The clogging of pores, which is the significant part of how acne starts, can be eliminated or reduced in the presence of benzoyl peroxide. This option can be a bit harsh on some skin types, so it’s best to ease into using any product with that as the main ingredient.

The Basics

While medicines can be incredibly helpful, sometimes examining other possible causes of acne outbreaks and their frequency is also recommended. These are sometimes contributing factors that should be addressed and altered in addition to trying particular medication. Some common acne triggers that should be evaluated are:

  • poor diet
  • hormonal imbalance
  • poor skin care
  • stress levels

Ensure that you also take a look at these factors when assessing how to move forward in the treatment of the particular acne you have. It’s also imperative to keep in mind that properly combatting these different types of acne won’t happen overnight. You won’t see results right away. You have to be consistent with your method of treatment and understand that clearing up your skin takes time. You may experience some hiccups along the way, and one particular method may stop working altogether. Remember to keep your dermatologist in the loop and consult with them often about the state of your acne and what seems to be working or not working.

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