Acne Treatments: Different Types of Pimples + How to Treat Each of Them!
Acne vulgaris is a common skin condition that afflicts millions of people annually. This skin disorder is responsible for the formation of various types of lesions that can develop on your face and/or upper trunk.
These lesions or blemishes can be categorized into 6 different types of pimples.
Determine which type of pimple you have so you can find the right acne treatment for your skin!
6 Types of Pimples
Non inflammatory acne consists of two types of pimples: whiteheads + blackheads.
Whiteheads (closed comedones)
Whiteheads occur when a buildup of dead skin cells and sebum clog up your hair follicle. The result is a raised bump with a “white head” that appears on the surface of your skin. A whitehead is referred to as a closed comedo since your skin covers its entire surface area.
Blackheads (open comedones)
Open comedones, a.k.a. blackheads are essentially the same as whiteheads; the only difference being, the “plug” (buildup of dead skin cells and sebum) is exposed to open air. The reason a blackhead is black is because the sebum has oxidized, changing its color to a darker hue! Ewwww…
Inflammatory acne consists of four types of pimples: papules, pustules, cysts, + nodules.
Papules are a type of inflammatory pimple that look like red, swollen bumps on the surface of your skin. Unlike whiteheads and blackheads, papules are somewhat tender to the touch.
Pustules are an inflammatory-type of pimple that also has a “white head”, however the white is composed of pus! Yuck!
Cysts are often caused by hormonal imbalances and are considered more severe on the acne spectrum. These are painful pus-filled lesions that lie deep within the skin and are prone to infection.
Nodules, like cysts, are also a severe type of acne. However, unlike cysts, they do not contain pus. They are hard, rooted deep beneath the epidermis and are painful at the surface of the skin.
How to Treat All Types of Pimples
There are several types of remedies available to treat acne. These can be grouped into two types: topical and systemic.
Acne Treatment: Topical Approach
Typically, mild cases of acne that fall under the non-inflammatory type (whiteheads and blackheads), can be remedied using only topical treatments.
Topical over-the-counter acne creams and gels contain active ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide and can be applied directly to the skin as spot treatments for your pesky pimples!
For more mild to moderate acne, retinoid cream may be prescribed by your dermatologist.
Acne Treatment: Systemic Approach
Pimples that fall under the inflammatory type (papules, pustules, cysts, nodules), may require more than just a topical treatment alone to be effective.
The systemic approach to treating moderate to severe acne consists of an oral treatment.
An antibiotic may be prescribed to target the bacteria that may be the source of your acne.
If the acne is severe and hormone-related, a hormonal oral contraceptive may be used to regulate hormones and reduce the severity and frequency of your outbreaks.
In extreme cases where all other treatments have been ineffective at treating cystic acne, isotretinoin (high-dose Vitamin A) may be prescribed in an effort to treat the condition once and for all.