Understanding Different Types of Acne

Learn about types of acne and how to treat them

There are many different types of acne. I don't just mean how everyone breaks out differently, either: I mean actual different types of acne. They exist, and they really affect how you treat your skin conditions.

Whether you deal with chronic acne or periodic outbreaks, it's helpful to understand causes of acne, types of acne, and all the ins and outs that help you treat -- and prevent! -- acne breakouts.

Types of acne

There are two primary types of acne: inflammatory and noninflammatory. They work out pretty much how you would think: inflammatory acne swells up and gets that beautiful Rudolph look while noninflammatory acne at least has the courtesy to stay flush to your skin.

Noninflammatory acne basically refers to blackheads or whiteheads. If you want to really impress people, you can go ahead and use the scientific name: comedones. (I just like to call them a pain in the neck). You get these when oil and dead skin block your hair follicles. With blackheads, you actually see those hair follicles (which is why they're black). Whiteheads are the same thing, but they close themselves off.

You may think that all remaining types of acne are pimples, but actually, there are four different types of acne that can blow up in your face (not literally, of course...).

Pimples is one of them: painful, bright red swellings full of pus. We've all had these and we all just LOVE them. Another technical name for you: pimples are also known as pustules. Papules, on the other hand, are smaller, and instead of containing puss, they're another indication of infection in the hair follicles. Like pimples, they can get quite red and sore.

Both of these types of acne occur on the surface of your skin, but there are two types that actually happen beneath your skin. Nodules occur when there's a deeper infection in the hair follicle and the lump happens beneath the surface, creating big, hard, painful lumps. Cysts are more like underskin pimples: full of puss, big and ugly, and the most likely types of acne to cause scars.

Choosing the best acne treatments

You may be thinking so what? They're all zits, and I hate them. Just tell me how to get rid of them.

Basically, acne treatments remain the same no matter what type of acne you have. There's no specialized treatment for certain types. However, it's useful to recognize the different types of acne. For one thing, if you're a pimple squeezer -- and I hope you're not -- you should at least know that there's no point squeezing blackheads and whiteheads, and if you squeeze cysts, you're creating a lot of future issues.

It's also helpful to recognize what type of acne you're prone to if you visit a dermatologist, or when you're choosing a facial cleanser. Recognizing different types of acne may not provide a cure, but it can help you make better choices.

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