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Did You Know There Was More Than One Type of Acne?

Aug 17, 2007
When you think of acne, spots and pimples often come to mind, and you automatically assume that acne is simply acne, and that it comes in only one form.
However, you may be surprised to find out that there is actually more than one type of acne. In fact, there are quite a few! So how can you tell the various forms apart, and how do you know which kind you actually have?

The Different Types of Acne

Even though pimples are the most common form of acne, there are other forms too, and they are generally separated into groups which are non inflammatory acne and inflammatory acne.

Non Inflammatory Acne:
Non inflammatory acne generally comes in two forms. Either closed comedo/whitehead or open comedo/blackhead.
An open comedo/whitehead usually occurs when the blocked follicle stays underneath the skin. The lesion is called a closed comedo or a whitehead and they usually appear just under the skin as small, white bumps.

A closed comedo/blackhead occurs when the plug enlarges itself and pushes through the surface of the skin. They are generally dark in appearance because of built up melanin, not dirt as most people think.

Inflammatory Acne:
Inflammatory acne comes in a variety of forms and these are the types of acne which cause the most problems.

The mildest type of inflammatory acne is the papule. This appears on the skin as firm, small, pink bumps and they are often tender to the touch. They are often referred to as an intermediary between clearly inflammatory and non inflammatory lesions.

Nodules or cysts are another type of inflammatory acne and they are usually extremely large and painful. Nodules are generally pus filled lesions which are lodged deep into the skin. They usually develop when a comedo has spilled into its surrounding skin and the immune system responds by developing pus. If the nodules last for quite a long time, usually at least a few months, then they can turn into cysts which can be particularly nasty. If you do have nodules or cysts, they do tend to leave scars.

Pustules are small, round shaped lesions, and they are very similar to papules. They are usually really inflamed and it is also possible to see that they filled with pus. The inflammation of a pustule is not due to bacteria, it is simply due to a chemical irritation from sebum components like fatty acids for example.

Acne Conglobata is the final type of inflammatory acne and it is generally the least common type. However, it is one of the most serious forms of acne and it is usually found either on the back, chest and buttocks. As well as Pustules and nodules being present, there are also a lot of bacteria there too which can cause a lot of problems!

Overall the most common form of acne is Acne Vulgaris and that contains both whiteheads and blackheads. It is the easiest form to treat and usually Benzoyl Peroxide is the best treatment method available for it.

So how do you treat the other forms of acne then?

Treating the Different Forms of Acne:

All forms of acne generally get worse if you keep touching them, and so the first step to treating the condition, is to touch it as little as possible. Most acne treatments available are good for all acne types, and things such as essential oils will really help. The best ones to try are tea tree oil (which is actually contained in a lot of acne treatment products), and witch hazel.

If you want to try over the counter products, Benzoyl Peroxide is generally the best ingredient to go for. Usually good acne treatments are fairly expensive but it will be well worth the money in the long run as you will not end up wasting more money on products which claim to work miracles but which actually do not work at all.

The best way to know which treatment method is better for you is to visit your doctor who will be able to give you a proper diagnosis and advise you on what will work better in your individual circumstance. Do not expect instant results with whichever treatment you do end up using, usually results take up to around six months to show fully. Overall you can beat your acne, but you just have to be patient!
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