Here on the Simply Skin blog, we talk a lot about acne. That’s because it’s one of the most common skin conditions, affecting around 50 million Americans annually.
But as common as it is, not all acne is created equal. In fact, for all the words we use to describe it — blemishes, bumps, pimples, breakouts — many people don’t realize that there are actually several distinct types of facial acne, each with their own appearance, causes, and treatment options.
To see clearer skin, it helps to know what types of blemishes you're dealing with. In this blog post, let’s explore the different types of acne — how they form, what they look like, and what you can do to treat them.
Types of Facial Acne
In almost all cases, acne happens because the pores in your skin are clogged. Clogged pores can happen when there is too much oil, bacteria, or skin cell production. But the types of acne and treatment options can vary based on a variety of factors.
There are three main types of facial acne: comedonal acne, inflammatory acne, and cystic acne.
Noninflammatory (or Comedonal) Acne
One of the different types of acne we’ll discuss — comedonal — is non-inflammatory. This is usually harder to treat than inflammatory acne. You’re probably familiar with comedonal acne because it’s most closely associated with blackheads and whiteheads. Comedones are formed when dead skin cells and sebum clog hair follicles, and are commonly found on the forehead, nose, and chin.
Types of acne treatment that work well for for comedonal acne include topical exfoliants, which help to unclog pores.
Inflammatory acne, on the other hand, takes the clogged pore a step further with a bacterial infection — causing an immune response that results in inflammation. Unlike whiteheads and blackheads, inflammatory acne is a type of acne on the face that's characterized by the appearance of red, swollen, and often painful pimples. There are two types of inflammatory acne:
Types of acne treatment for inflammatory acne include topical mandelic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which help to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria.
Nudolocystic (or Cystic) Acne
Nodulocystic or cystic acne is a form of inflammatory acne that (as the name suggests) often includes acne nodules or cysts. This leads to severe breakouts that penetrate deep into the skin and often cause permanent acne scars when they heal. You’re probably familiar with this type of facial acne because of how painful it can be — often feeling akin to a bruise.
This is considered one of the most severe types of acne on the face — so if you have acne that looks like this, you’ll need the help of a licensed professional to treat it. The sooner you start treatment, the fewer permanent scars you’ll have.
Identifying Types of Facial Acne
It's essential to distinguish between the different types of facial acne to determine the most effective type of acne treatment. Two things to keep in mind:
Otherwise, a good way to tell what type of acne you have is by whether or not your breakouts leave scars.
Preventing Different Types of Acne
Prevention measures for any type of facial acne begins with proper skin care. Wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser and choose products that are labeled “non-comedogenic” (meaning they’re less likely to make you break out). Avoid the temptation to pick or squeeze pimples — doing so will only make acne worse, and increases the chance of scarring. And of course, nurture your skin from the inside out by living a skin healthy lifestyle.
Understanding Types of Acne and Treatment
If you feel discouraged with your acne treatment and believe that nothing will work, don’t give up. Effective treatment is available — sometimes it just requires a little help.
An esthetician can help determine the most effective treatment options for your specific type of facial acne. And the good news is, regardless of what type you have, virtually everyone with acne can achieve clear skin.
Schedule your free consultation today to learn more.