What is Acne and Why?

What is Acne and Why You Should Care

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions affecting both teenagers and adults. Acne occurs when pores on your skin become clogged with oil (sebum) and dead skin cells. 

Acne comes in many types and multiple levels of severity. Each acne type may require a different treatment. While you can address many types of acne with over-the-counter treatments or even ignore mild breakouts, severe cases may require a visit to the dermatologist to control. 

Although acne is rarely medically dangerous, mismanaging it can leave permanent acne scars. Persistent acne can also contribute to severe self-confidence issues—especially in teenagers. 

Types of Acne and What You Can Do About Them 

There are 2 categories of acne and 6 medically distinct types:  

Non-inflammatory acne: This category of acne is the less acute of the two. It is considered non-inflammatory because it does not cause swelling. 

  • Blackheads: These occur when a pore is clogged with oil and dead skin cells. They are called “blackheads” because they look like tiny black dots on the skin’s surface. The top of the pore is open, making blackheads easy to pop (not recommended). 

    Over-the-counter treatments like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide work great at eliminating blackheads. These topical treatments exfoliate the skin, removing excess oil and dead skin cells. 
  • Whiteheads: Like blackheads, whiteheads also form in pores due to a buildup of oil and dead skin cells. Unlike blackheads, the top of the pore is not open. This gives this acne a white-ish appearance. 

    Because the pore is closed, whiteheads are harder to treat than blackheads. The same over-the-counter treatments are still effective, but topical retinoids prescribed by a dermatologist may be necessary. 

Do not pop or squeeze whiteheads, as the wound may leave acne scars. 

Inflammatory acne: Bacteria clogs the pores, causing them to turn red and swollen. Inflammatory acne can be painful and is harder to treat. 

  • Papules: When oil and dead skin cells in the pores mix with bacteria, a patch of small red bumps forms—like lesions. Papules do not contain pus. Over-the-counter antibiotics, namely benzoyl peroxide, can treat papules. 
  • Pustules: These are similar to papules, except they contain pus. The pus gives these pimples a yellow-ish appearance. The same antibiotics for papules work for pustules. Popping or squeezing pustules can spread the pus over your skin, which can worsen the infection. 
  • Nodules: When bacteria becomes entrenched under your skin, a large nodule may form. These deeply-rooted flesh-coloured pimples do not respond well to over-the-counter medication. Prescription-strength antibiotics do the trick, however. In rare cases, your dermatologist may have to manually drain the nodules or use a laser to treat them. 
  • Cysts: Cystic acne forms when the bacterial infection occurs at a level even deeper than nodules. The infection is so severe that the acne has become painful to the touch. Cystic acne is also prone to scarring. 
  • These large, pus-filled sacs can be difficult to treat. A combination of prescription medicine, which includes antibiotics and steroids, is almost always necessary. Your dermatologist may even have to remove them via surgery. 

Enjoy the Acne-Free Skin You Deserve

There is no permanent cure for acne, but that does not mean you have to endure it. Though moderate cases are harmless, acute breakouts can leave severe acne scars and affect your self-esteem. People with particularly severe acne may even avoid social interactions and experience impacts to their lifestyle.

Recommend: Dermasure Acne Treatment Pack.