Acne is not Just Acne: the Various Types of Acne

Acne is not just acne.  There are several types of acne, each requiring a different type of treatment for it to be effective.  It is important that yours is correctly diagnosed. Some are mild forms, that are easily treated, but the more severe forms can be difficult to clear up and can also be disfiguring to your skin.

Acne Vulgaris

The most common type of acne is known as acne vulgaris (meaning common acne), which is characterized by whiteheads, blackheads, nodules, cysts, papules and pustules. This type of acne is normally mild but can turn severe in an adult.

Whiteheads develop as the result of the blocking of a pore in your skin.  Sebum (oil), dead skin cells and bacteria, which would normally be expelled through the pore, build up and form that white appearance. Whiteheads often dry up and disappear by themselves, while blackheads tend to be more persistent. With a blackhead the pore is only partially blocked, and therefore partially drains. Hence, it tends not to burst and and lasts for a longer period of  time.  The black spot is not caused by dirt but by a reaction with the melanin pigment in the skin.

A pustule is more painful and inflamed than a whitehead, and is commonly called a zit. A papule has no white or black head, but takes the form of an inflamed lump on your skin and under no circumstances should it be squeezed.  This can cause scarring.

Nodules and cysts are associated with severe forms of acne vulgaris, and require professional medical treatment. Squeezing these will almost certainly cause scarring and possible infection. Nodules are large painful hard lumps under the skin, and cysts are similar but filled with pus. A cyst can be about a quarter inch in diameter and cause extensive scarring if it bursts.  Medical treatment can help to reduce the inflammation.

Although it is sensible to keep your skin clean, don't overdo it because if you wash off the protective skin oils, you can cause even more serious problems. Oil free cosmetics should also be used.  Acne vulgaris can be treated using antibiotics and a range of skin creams designed for the condition.  Laser treatment can be used on more severe cases.

Acne Rosacea

Acne rosacea and acne vulgaris frequently look the same and are often confused. However, while vulgaris can affect any part of your body, mainly the face, back and chest, rosacea is predominantly found on the face and forehead. It takes the appearance of a red rash often containing pimples and bumps in the skin. Since treatment is different from acne vulgaris, medical help is needed to identify the type of acne you have.

Other Types

These are the two most common types of acne.  There are other types, which are rare, but and  require medical treatment if you contract them. Acne Congloba is a severe type of acne vulgaris, occurring mainly in adult males, and consists of many interconnected lesions.  It is also characterized with a large number of blackheads, on the face, chest, upper arms, thighs and buttocks and is treated with isotretinoin.  Treatment is not always immediately successful, but does tend to have an effect over time.

Acne Fulminans is a type of acne conglobata that occurs very rapidly in young men, and it commonly causes severe scarring. Symptoms include aching joints and a fever.   Pyoderma Faciale normally affects only the faces of adult females, and forms large nodules and pustules that can cause scarring. With proper care and treatment however, it generally disappears within a year.
Finally, Gram-Negative Folliculitis is a form of acne caused by bacteria, and is very rare.  It is believed to occur after long term treatment of acne vulgaris, and its cause is generally unknown.

Antibiotics are effective with this type of acne.

There are several types of acne, and it is important that you not only recognize it for what it is, but that you seek medical advice. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between them, especially at onset. The quicker the treatment begins, the less severe the scarring is likely to be.

Dean Erickson
Dean Erickson is a free lancewriter specializing in health and fitness topics. Interested in more information in regards to acne care and... (Bio)

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