The Different Types Of Acne And How To Treat Them

Acne can often lead to frustration and self-consciousness, and sometimes the most severe forms can lead to permanent scarring. However, by knowing all about the different types of acne and how to treat them you can confidently manage your skin’s health and attain a clear, radiant complexion.

What is acne?

Acne (or in medical terms, acne vulgaris) is one of the common skin diseases that occurs when hair follicles or pores become clogged with oil, bacteria or dead skin cells. Whilst acne vulgaris is most commonly associated with adolescence, it can affect people of all ages.

There are several key factors that can cause different types of acne:

  • Excess oil production: One of the primary factors is an overproduction of oil (sebum) by the sebaceous glands in the skin.
  • Clogged hair follicles and pores: When the oil mixes with dead cells, it can clog pores, creating an ideal environment for acne-causing bacteria to thrive.
  • Bacterial infection: Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) is a type of bacteria that can infect clogged pores and contribute to inflammation and the formation of pimples and acne blemishes.
  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal fluctuations, such as those that occur during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, or due to certain medical conditions, can influence oil production and contribute to hormonal acne.
  • Diet and lifestyle: Factors like poor diet, stress, and inadequate skincare can also play a role in the development of acne.
different types of acne

All different types of acne can be caused by many things, from poor diet and smoking to hormonal changes and excessive oil production.

What are the common types of acne?

Different types of acne can manifest in a variety of forms. However, the most common forms are comedonal, inflammatory and cystic.

Comedonal Acne

Comedonal acne is a noninflammatory acne type. This mild acne type can be further divided into:

  • Blackheads: Open comedones that appear as small black dots on the skin’s surface due to oxidised sebum and debris.
  • Whiteheads: Closed comedones that are flesh-coloured or white and appear as raised bumps on the skin.

Comedonal non-inflammatory acne is primarily caused by a hair follicle or pore becoming blocked by a buildup of oil and dead skin cells. Blackheads and whiteheads generally respond well to over-the-counter treatments that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to unclog pores. A good skincare routine and regular exfoliation may also help prevent comedones.

Inflammatory Acne

Inflammatory acne presents as red, swollen, and sometimes painful pimples. This particular type can present as mild or moderate acne and can include:

  • Inflammatory papules (small, red bumps)
  • Pustular acne (pus-filled pimples)
  • Nodules (larger, deeper bumps), otherwise known as nodular acne

Nodules, papules and pustules are caused when blocked pores become infected with P. acnes bacteria, leading to inflamed blemishes. Topical acne treatments with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide and topical antibiotics, are often used. For more severe acne, prescription medications such as oral antibiotics or creams may be recommended.

different types of acne

Painful papules and pustules can be present with inflammatory type acne, affect surrounding skin and can be classed as a more severe type.

Cystic Acne

This is a more severe form of acne and is characterised by large, painful, inflamed nodules and cysts deep within the skin. These can cause scarring and are often resistant to conventional treatments. Excess oil production, hormonal fluctuations and inflammation all contribute to this severe acne type.

Treatment may involve oral antibiotics, hormonal therapy (such as oral contraceptives), or even steroids for painful cysts. It’s crucial to consult a dermatologist for proper management of nodules and cysts.

Treatment options for acne

Achieving clear skin involves a multifaceted approach when treating different types of acne, including:

Skincare routine

By establishing a consistent skincare routine with products designed for your skin type you can remove dead skin cells, prevent excess sebum and rediscover clear, luminous skin. A good skincare routine is a great mild acne treatment and may even prevent further acne lesions.

Lifestyle changes

Treating different types of acne can be as simple as making a few lifestyle modifications, such as:

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Eating a balanced and nutritious diet
  • Managing your stress
  • Quit smoking

Professional treatments

For severe acne, dermatologists may recommend more aggressive treatment, such as:

different types of acne

There are many different ways to treat all the different types of acne, from a good skincare routine and lifestyle changes to OTC medications and ointments with antibacterial properties.

When should I seek professional help for my acne?

If over-the-counter medications and treatments don’t improve your acne or if you have severe symptoms, it’s essential to consult a dermatologist. They are experts at identifying between the forms and how to treat different types of acne to eliminate the problem and prevent potential scarring. A dermatologist can provide a tailored treatment plan that will address your unique skin condition.

Your journey to clear skin starts here!

Acne can be managed through a consistent skincare routine, lifestyle adjustments, professional treatments or prescription medication. Clear skin may take time, but with patience and guidance from our experienced clinic team, you can achieve the radiant complexion you desire. Contact us for personalised advice and support on your journey to healthier skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

Each type has particular characteristics and causes. If you are unsure, a dermatologist can assess your skin to determine your acne type and then develop a personalised treatment plan.

Hormonal acne often appears around the jawline and chin. It will also worsen with hormonal changes such as pregnancy or during the different stages of your menstrual cycle.

In severe cases, an acne blemish can lead to scars, especially if left untreated or you pick at it. A dermatologist can tailor a treatment plan for oral medications, or other prescription treatment to help treat your particular type of acne and prevent scarring.

About The Author

Monica Zhang

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