Feeling confident and happy in your own skin is a big part of feeling confident and happy in all areas of life. It is perfectly normal to freak out a little when you find acne and blemishes popping up, don’t pick or pop anything! Picking at skin is the easiest way to cause further damage to the skin, like more breakouts, scarring, and discoloration. Instead, we have put together a comprehensive guide on different types of acne, pimples, zits, and blemishes so you’ll be armed and ready for any skin issues that pop up.
What are the types of acne?
Before we dig deep into the specific types of acne, it is important to know about the main broad categories: noninflammatory and inflammatory acne. The first category is acne that does not cause inflammation to the skin like blackheads and whiteheads. Noninflammatory acne does not result in swelling and is usually not very painful. Inflammatory acne is acne that causes skin inflammation, obviously, and is more severe than noninflammatory acne. This category includes papules, pustules, cysts, and nodules. Inflammatory acne can result in painful spots that are usually inflamed, red, or swollen, and more likely to cause scarring.
Comedones are hair follicles that are clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells. They typically appear as small, skin colored bumps found on both the forehead and chin and can be open (blackheads) or closed (whiteheads).
Blackheads are open on the skin surface and are made up of clogged pores filled with excess oil, sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cells. The black color is not dirt trapped within the skin, but is a result of exposed sebum and oils darkening due to oxidation.
Whiteheads are closed on the skin surface and are made up of oil, sebum, and dead skin cells prevent the clogged hair follicle from opening. They technically count as pimples and are common on oilier skin types.
Blackheads and whiteheads are the mildest forms of acne and can be easily fixed with over-the-counter (OTC) treatments. Products such as cleansers, moisturizers, toners, and creams that contain the following ingredients work the best in eliminating comedones:
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Salicylic acid
Salicylic acid works best on noninflammatory acne since it exfoliates the skin and removes dead skin cells which is the leading factor in this type of acne. Similarly, changes to your lifestyle and home remedies can also help in treating blackheads and whiteheads.
- Making sure to clean face daily and exfoliate regularly
- Cleaning items that touch your face regularly: phones, pillow cases, makeup brushes and tools, etc.
- Staying hydrated
- Wearing sunscreen
- Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet
The Greenery Lab Product Recommendation: GoodnDoc AC Blemish Control Toner, GoodnDoc Pore & Sebum Black Ginger Toner
Papules are inflamed comedones that appear as small red or pink bumps. They may be sensitive to touch and are hard, tender bumps underneath the skin’s surface. Papules develop when whiteheads and blackheads lead to inflammation; it is important to not pick or squeeze them since inflammation may worsen and result in acne scars.
Pustules are also known as inflamed pimples. They are large tender bumps that are filled with either yellow or white pus. Pustules may look like whiteheads with red rings around them and avoid picking or squeezing to prevent dark spots and acne scars.
Papules and pustules are moderate forms of acne and can be treated with OTC treatments as well as home remedies. It is essential to make sure you are cleaning your face daily and using products with benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid since they are helpful in fighting papules and pustules.
Nodules are large, hard, and inflamed bumps that have a firm texture. They are created when clogged pores damage cells and tissues deep within the skin and are usually very painful. They may appear as larger and deeper papules that do not have visible centers. Nodule acne is one of the most severe forms of acne and can cause scarring.
Cysts are large, red or white, and painful lumps filled with pus. These lumps are results of severe inflammation and pores clogged with bacteria, sebum, and dead skin cells. They are deeper within the skin than nodules and are the largest as well as most severe form of acne. Cysts usually cause scarring to the skin.
Since cysts and nodules are the most severe forms of acne, OTC treatments are not as effective and it is advised that you see a dermatologist to treat these types of acne. Before your appointment, you can try gently massaging the bumps with a hot compress (repeat as needed), but it is still recommended to seek a specialist if more of acne of this kind pops up or persists. Your dermatologist may give you the following prescription medication:
- Topical corticosteroids
- Oral contraceptives
- Chemical peels
- Systemic retinoids
- Extraction or drainage of pus in cysts/nodules