The different types of Acne

The term acne, in totality, does not mean JUST pimples. There are different types of acne that skin experts coined. Acne is a term for plugged pores (blackheads, whiteheads), pimples and even deeper lumps (cysts or nodules), that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and even the upper arms.

The different
types of acne

Mild to moderate Acne Vulgaris

Acne Vulgaris (common acne) includes several types of lesions, usually called blackhead, whitehead, papules, pustules, nodules and cyst. Amongst the different types of acne, mild to moderate acne vulgaris is characterized by:

Blackheads are caused by partially blocked pores. The black appearance is caused by melanin pigment from dead skin cells. Blackheads tend to be stable structures, and often take a long time to clear.

Whiteheads are caused by completely blocked pores. The white appearance is caused by the bacteria inside turning the sebum into free fatty acid. The whitehead differs in color from the blackhead because the opening of the plugged sebaceous follicle to the skin’s surface is closed or very narrow, in contrast to the distended follicular opening of the blackhead.


Neither blackheads nor whiteheads should be squeezed or picked open, unless extracted by a dermatologist under sterile conditions. Tissue injured by squeezing or picking can become infected by staphylococci, streptococci and other skin bacteria.

Mild to moderate acne vulgaris can also be characterized by papules which are small, red, tender bumps or spots. A group of very small papules and microcomedones may be almost invisible but have a "sandpaper" feel to the touch. A papule is caused by localized cellular reaction to the process of acne. It can also be characterized by pustules which are larger, red and inflamed-pus filled spots.

Severe Acne Vulgaris

Amongst the different types of acne, severe acne vulgaris is is characterized by:

Nodules are large and hard bumps under the skin’s surface. Unlike a papule, a nodule is characterized by inflammation, extends into deeper layers of the skin and may cause tissue destruction that results in scarring. A nodule may be very painful.

Cysts are similar to nodules but can be severely inflamed and infected.

Acne Rosacea

Amongst the different types of acne, acne Rosacea is a variant that typically causes a red nose and is more common in older people than in young people, mostly affecting those who are aged 30 and above. It commonly appears as red rash, which are normally confined, to the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. The redness is often accompanied by bumps and pimples. Blood vessels may also become more visible on the skin. People with this kind of acne rarely have pimples. These flashes can be triggered by certain foods like spicy foods and alcohol.

Acne conglobata

Acne conglobata is one of the different types of acne. It is a chronic and severe form of acne vulgaris (common acne). It is usually characterized by deep abscesses, severe inflammation, severe damage to the skin, scarring, blackheads are usually conspicuous and widespread. It often appears on the face, chest, back, thighs, upper arms and buttocks. It usually affects those whose age is between 18-30 years old.

In acne conglobata, inflammatory nodules form around multiple comedones, gradually increasing in size until they break down and discharge pus. Deep ulcers may form under the nodules, leading to keloid-type scars, and crusts may form over deeply ulcerated nodules

Acne conglobata may be preceded by acne cyst, papules or pustules that do not heal, but instead rapidly deteriorate. Occasionally, acne conglobata flares up in acne that had been dormant for many years.

Acne fulminans

Amongst the different types of acne, acne fulminans is one that normally afflicts young men. It is a sudden onset of highly destructive inflammation, Symptoms of severe nodulocystic, often ulcerating acne, aching joints and fever are apparent. It may result from unsuccessful treatment of acne conglobata. It does not respond well to antibiotics, so accutane and oral steroids are normally prescribed. Corticosteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications may be given to reduce inflammation. Attacks of acne fulminans may recur, and the patient may develop acne that requires long-term treatment with isotretinoin.

Gram-negative folliculitis

Gram-negative folliculitis is a complication of abused and long- term use of antibiotic. Patients with this type of acne are usually treated with accutane since it is known to be effective against gram-negative bacteria. The word “Gram” refers to a blue stain used in laboratories to detect microscopic organisms. Certain bacteria do not stain blue and are called “Gram negative.”

Pyoderma faciale

Amongst the different types of acne, Pyoderma faciale is one that affects females mainly belonging to the 20-40 age groups. It is confined to the face, appears suddenly as both deep and superficial cystic lesions of the face with interconnecting "tunnels" between cysts, reddish inflammation of the skin, and slight swelling (edema) of the skin, rarely persists more than a year or so, and is not associated with oily skin.

Most of the different types of acne can be remedied at home. But not the most severe ones. Go and see your doctor or dermatologist before your condition worsen. Remember that beautiful skin reflects satisfactory health.

Learn how to treat the different types of acne.


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