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Acne - Types

We commonly use the term ‘breakout’ to describe all types of pimples or acne. But this is not an accurate description of the condition. There are different types of pimples and not all of them spread across the skin. There are 2 major categories of acne viz. non-inflammatory acne and inflammatory acne. Let’s take a look at the different acne types within these 2 categories.

Non - Inflammatory Acne

These types of pimples generally don’t cause any swelling. They are distinguished by open or closed skin pores or hair follicles which are clogged due to excess oil, dead skin accumulation or bacterial build up. There are 2 non-inflammatory acne types.

  1. Blackheads

    Blackheads, also known as open comedones, are small bumps that appear on the surface of the skin. The bumps are called blackheads because the surface appears dark or black. Blackheads are a type of acne on face, but they can also develop on other parts of the body such as the neck, back, chest, arms and shoulders. Blackheads form when a clog or a plug develops in the opening of the hair follicles in your skin. When the skin over the bump opens, exposure to the air leads to oxidation, which causes it to look dark and a blackhead forms. Because of their dark colour, blackheads are easy to spot on the skin. They’re slightly raised, although they are not painful.

  2. Whiteheads

    Whiteheads, also known as closed comedones, are an acne type that generally appears in the oiliest areas of the body. As a type of acne on face, whiteheads are commonly seen in the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin). They can also be found on your chest, back, shoulders and arms. Whiteheads are covered by the epidermis (outermost layer of the skin) and are found in smaller pores, which make them appear like the colour of your skin. If left untreated, whiteheads can turn into inflamed, painful pimples.

Inflammatory Acne

These types of pimples appear red and swollen. Along with excess sebum and dead skin cells, bacteria can also play a role in clogging skin pores. The bacterial build up can cause an infection deep within the skin’s surface, resulting in painful acne spots which can be difficult to heal. There are 4 different types of pimples in this category.

  1. Papules

    Papules are an acne type which cause small, tender raised bumps on your skin with no visible fluid. They are often called skin lesions. Papules are formed when the walls surrounding the skin pores break down due to severe inflammation. This leads to hard, clogged pores that are tender to the touch. The skin around these pores usually appears pinkish. Papules are generally less than a centimetre in size.

  2. Pustules

    Pustules are a type of pimple that can also form when the walls around your pores break down. The difference between papules and pustules is that unlike papules, pustules are filled with pus. In this type of pimples, the bumps often come out from the skin and are usually red in colour. They often have white or yellow heads. It is a common type of pimple on face, but they can also form on the back and chest.

  3. Nodules

    A nodule is a growth of abnormal tissue below the surface of the skin. Nodules develop when clogged, swollen pores endure further irritation and grow larger. Unlike papules and pustules, nodules are deeper underneath the skin. Therefore, this acne type cannot be treated by home remedies but requires proper medical attention. Medical treatment can help treat this type of acne by reducing the size of the oil glands within the pores.

  4. Cysts

    Cystic acne is a severe acne type that develops when skin pores are clogged by a combination of sebum, bacteria and dead skin cells. The clogs develop deep within the skin and are further below the surface than nodules. This type of pimple forms large red or white bumps which are often painful to the touch. Cysts are the largest form of acne and their development usually results due to a severe infection. This type of acne is also the most likely to scar.

FAQs

What kind of acne causes small bumps?

Almost all forms of acne result in small bumps on the skin. However, they are more commonly seen in inflammatory acne types. When excess oil, dead skin cells and bacteria build up in the hair follicles on the skin, it can cause inflammation (swelling and redness). This can lead to the formation of small red bumps on the skin. These types of pimples can be sensitive to the touch. Picking or squeezing pimples can worsen the inflammation and may lead to scarring.

What are the different skin acne types?

There are 6 different types of acne or types of pimples that commonly occur on the skin. They are whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, cysts and nodules.

What does stress acne look like?

Increase in stress may lead to hormonal changes that can trigger oil glands to secrete excess oil. This can trigger an acne type known as stress acne. Stress acne generally appears in the oiliest areas of the face, such as the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin). Stress acne can look like a combination of whiteheads, blackheads, red bumps and pus-filled pimples.

What does hormonal acne look like?

Hormonal acne is an acne type that is triggered due to fluctuations in the hormone levels. A number of factors, such as menstruation and menopause, can contribute to this type of pimples. Hormonal acne takes the form of whiteheads, blackheads, small bumps on the skin or cysts.

What do you call a hard pimple?

Hard pimples are a type of pimples that appear as raised bumps on or under the surface of the skin. In some cases, they’re filled with pus. Some common types of hard pimples include papules, pustules, nodules and cysts.

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