Not all acne is the same. Offically referred to as acne vulgaris, the symptoms of acne are inflamed spots or elevations (bumps) either on, or under, the skin. Simply stated, acne can be divided into two categories
- Non-inflammatory acne – these are comedones such as blackheads and whiteheads
- Inflammatory acne – these are pustules, nodules and/or cysts, usually filled with pus (we commonly call these pimples or zits).
- Blackheads – Also called open comedones, blackheads are follicles that have a wider than normal opening. They are filled with plugs of sebum (oil) and sloughed-off cells and have undergone a chemical reaction resulting in the oxidation of melanin. This gives the material in the follicle the typical black color. Blackheads can last for a long time because the contents very slowly drain to the surface.
- Whiteheads – Also called closed comedones, whiteheads (or Milia) are follicles that are filled with the same material as blackheads, but have only a microscopic opening to the skin surface. Since the air cannot reach the follicle, the material is not oxidized, and remains white. Whiteheads may show up as tiny white spots, or they may be so small that they are invisible to the naked eye.
Papules – these are inflamed red bumps under the skin without a head. A papule occurs when there is a break in the follicular wall. White blood cells rush in and the pore becomes inflamed. Images below are Papules.
Pustules – A pustule, commonly referred to as a pimple or ‘zit’, forms several days after the appearance of a papule, when white blood cells make their way to the surface of the skin. Pustules start as a red circle on the skin, with a yellow or whitish center. Pustules should not be confused with papules which are smaller in size and have the ability of forming acne scars if squeezed. To avoid scars forming because of pustules or papules, it is better to refrain touching them at all. Images below are Pustules.
Nodular Acne – A Nodule is characterized by the presence of large, inflamed breakouts. Nodules are a larger and more serious form of acne (acne vulgaris). They are hard, painful lumps under the skin’s surface. Much larger than papules, nodules form deep within the skin and take a long time to heal. They affect deeper layers of the skin, and can be painful. Nodular acne can occur on the face, back, and body. This type of acne can cause severe, permanent scars, which can appear to be depressions in the skin or as hyperpigmentation – a dark red or brown flat mark where the acne lesions were. Nodular acne should be treated by a medical doctor or dermatologist. Images below are Nodules.
Cystic Acne – Cysts are the most severe form of acne (acne vulgaris) characterized by intense redness and inflammation. Skin of cystic acne sufferers contains a large number of nodules and cysts. Cystic Acne appears as swollen, painful pus-filled sores that can result in scarring and pitting. Scarring is particularly common when people squeeze the cysts to try to eliminate the pus. The blemishes themselves can become large; some may measure up to several centimeters across. They feel like soft, fluid-filled lumps under the skin’s surface. Teenagers are the main group of people afflicted with cystic acne, and the condition is more common in males than females. Images below are Cysts.
Treating acne can be a complicated issue – treatments that work for one person may not work for another. We have addressed the issue of professional treatment for severe acne to home remedies for mild to moderate cases of acne. Please click some of the links below for more information on treating and preventing acne.
- The Basics of Treating Back Acne (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Laser Acne Treatment
- Home Remedies for Acne
- Frequently Asked Questions About Acne Scars (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Treating Mild Acne at Home