Different Types of Acne And How To Treat Them


While everyone in this world wants to have clearer skin, skin acne has been a persistent problem keeping them from their goal. Acne is a common skin problem usually occurring in the facial region. However, their outbreak may affect any part of the body and is usually treatable. The most common reason of Acne is the excessive secretion from the oil glands present in the skin. These glands are known as sebaceous gland and produce oil to keep the skin moist. Although 80% cases of acne are observed during adolescence, 20% of the cases occur in adults. Common for both the sexes this problem has always been up for discussion in medical sciences. There are different types of acne and the reasons for their outbreak. Here is a brief on every question that might have crossed your mind about acne:

different types of acne
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What are the different types of acne?

Acne has secured a good list in the books of sciences. They vary according to their appearance however the reason of their occurrence remains the same in most of the cases. As per the medical science, there are 5 major medical terms for types of acne. Here they are explained in detail for helping you identify the particular acne you are dealing with:

  • Whiteheads:

This is a common acne type occurring in most of the people. As the name suggests, they are small blemishes with a “white-colored” head that occur on the skin when skin follicles (pores) gets plugged in with oil and dead skin cells. Our skin needs a certain amount of sebum (an essential oil for healthy skin), but the raised secretion of this oil, when combined with dead skin cells, forms what you may call a “Whitehead.”

  • Blackheads:

This is the most common type of acne and usually experienced by many of us. It appears as a black dot on the skin and in dermatological terms classified as “comedones”. They can also be considered as open and oxidized white heads.


  • Papules:

They differ from medium to small in size and can be observed as a swollen pimple under the skin. You may recognize them with their redness and swell. They have bacterial components with them along with sebum and dead skin cells. The absence of pus makes them dry and itchy and leads to irritation and inflammation.

  • Pustules:

They are very similar to papules except that they are pus filled acne. The pus present in this acne type is yellowish or whitish in color which gives them an appearance of stern white heads. They are painful when touched and may at times leave a post- breakout scar.

  • Severe Acne: Nodules, Cysts, and Acne Conglobata

There are 3 severe types of Acne; Nodules, Cysts, and Conglobata. These are the rigorous conditions when compared to the average acne and may cause severe damage to the skin if no proper treatment is provided. They are large and red in color and may appear in outsized patches of blemishes.  They take months to be treated and need close medical supervision to be cured without leaving any sign of their presence.

Apart from these types acne may also occur in the back region of the body. The back acnes are usually papules or pustules and occur in large numbers.

What causes different types of acne?

The common cause of different types of acne is sebum, dead skin cells, and dirt or impurities. However, the extent of these things may differ from one acne type t from one acne type to other. Here is what these terms means and their relation to different types of acne:-

Sebum: It is an oily, waxy substance secreted by the Sebaceous glands present on the skin. It consists of triglycerides, wax esters, squalene and metabolites of fat-producing cells. It is essential for healthy skin in certain quantities however when secreted above the limit (due to hormonal imbalance) it combines with other factors giving birth to acne.

Dead skin cells: Our skin cells have a defined age after which they become dead. The keratinocytes (skin cells) start forming at the lowest level and keep growing towards the outer skin, once they reach the top most level they die due to the exposure to many external factors. These dead skin cells usually shed off the skin but many times get accumulated in the pores along with the sebum to cause acne.

Dirt and impurities: The skin may fetch dirt and impurities from the environment. The dirt and impurity thus caught may settle in the pores furthering the making of acne. One must keep the pores open and cleans the face time to time to avoid any such condition to occur.

The below list explains the different types and acne and their causes:

Types of acne Causes Occurrence
White Head Sebum + skin cells clogging the pores Anywhere on the face. They occur denser on the corners of the nose, chin and the lower lip area.
Black Heads Sebum + dead skin cells+ oxidization clogging the skin pores Anywhere on the face. They occur denser on the corners of the nose, chin and the lower lip area.
Papules Sebum + dead skin clogging pores underneath the skin On cheeks, chin around the nose and upper and lower lip area
Pustules Sebum + Dead skin cells forming pimple filled with white or yellow pus On cheeks, nasal area and on upper and lower lip area.
Severe Acne (Nodules, Cysts, and Acne Conglobata) Sebum + dead skin cells combined to form stern pimples deeper in the skin. Above and around the nose, on chin and cheeks. In men, they occur on the back in common.

 How to treat different types of acne?

There is a list of different types of acne, and so is the list of the possible treatments for them. The treatment for acne can be topical, oral medication, Therapies, etc. Here is a brief about them:

Topical medication:

Topical medication best effects when applied to the dry and clean skin. They usually show the results in a week time and may at first cause irritation, redness and peeling initially. The most common topical medications are:

Retinoid: It is a combination of tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene. It is derived from Vitamin A and is available in the form of gels, lotions, and creams. This can be applied thrice in a week or as prescribed by the physician.

treat-different-types of-acne

Antibiotics: The antibiotics are effective in killing the bacteria on the skin. They are combined with benzoyl peroxide to eliminate the antibiotic resistance by the skin.

Oral Medication:

To treat a greater extent of acne outbreak, the dermatologist may prescribe you oral medication. Here are the common types:

Anti- biotics: Topical antibiotics at times may not be sufficient to eliminate the excess bacteria from the skin hence your dermatologist may prescribe you a combination of oral and topical antibiotic. However, as soon as the symptoms start to wave off the doctor may ask you to stop consuming it. The most common choices include minocycline and doxycycline.

Combined Oral Contraceptive: As hormonal imbalance is one of the prime reasons of acne, doctors often prescribe combined oral contraceptives to women and young girls. The three combined oral contraceptive for this use by the Food and Drug Administration are Estrostep, Ortho Tri-cyclen & Yaz.

Isotretinoin: This is only for use in case of severe acne and should never be consumed without the doctor’s prescription.


You may also try many therapies available for different types of acne. Light Therapy, Chemical peel, Extraction of white head and black head, Steroid injections are a few types of therapies effective for acne treatment.


How to identify different types of acne?

The different types of acne differ in their cause and their appearance. It is very easy to identify common acne however severe acne might be a little tough to be observed. Here is a brief how different types of acne appear:

  • Black Head or White Head: They both appear as a spot on the skin depicting the color as per their name. They can be extracted by pressing the skin with nails.
  • Papules: They appear as a swollen, red area on the skin and may have inflammation caused redness all around it. You may feel pain if you touch them.
  • Pustules: They appear as a red, swollen area in the start and resemble the papules closely. However, at the time of maturity, it becomes whitish or a yellowish pimple filled with pus and a visible white head in the middle.
  • Severe Acne: Cysts are large and have pus filled inside them. They appear as boils and are painful when touched. Nodules are yet another type of acne that appears as large and inflamed bumps on the skin. They feel firm when touched and are painful.

Acne Conglobata is a condition in which many modules are spread all over the skin and are connected with each under underneath the skin.


Types of facial treatments for acne:

Most likely acne hit the face and is a prime beauty concern in the female sex. To effectively cure this skin ailment causing blemishes to the beauty of the women doctors have come up with many facial treatments. The most popular out of them are:

Light Therapy:

This treatment is the oldest in the section and has been effective for the treatment of different types of acne with minimal side effects. It can be performed in a doctor’s room or at the comfort of your home with a hand held the blue light device.

Chemical peel:

A chemical solution is applied to the skin repeatedly and acts by peeling the affected skin. It may cause severe redness, irritation, and discoloration of the skin for a long time. This treatment should never be combined with retinoids as together they may cause stern skin irritation.

Extraction of Black Heads and whiteheads:

This is the most common method used for treating Blackheads and Whiteheads. Special tools are used to extract them. This procedure can be taken out under the dermatologist supervision. For common acne problem, your salon beautician may give you a helping hand.

Steroid Injections:

This method is used for treating Nodular or Cystic lesions. It is performed by injecting the steroids directly into them which improves their presence and makes them look like the skin around.

Types of laser treatment for acne scars:

If you played with your acne or has a severe type of them you might have the unsympathetic scars on your skin. These scars can be treated with an effective laser treatment. Your therapist or dermatologist may prescribe you the best treatment based on the type of acne you are dealing with. Here are the main types of laser treatments for different type of acnes:


Fraxel Laser:

  • It does not vaporize the skin tissues and is a non-ablative laser.
  • It heats the skin and makes the skin produce new collagens.

Carbon Dioxide Laser:

  • The latest laser treatment for acne scars.
  • It acts by vaporizing the tissue with short bursts of high energy generating the laser.
  • It takes 3-10 days in recovering from the intensity of this laser.

Fractional Laser treatment:

  • It is possibly the best laser treatment for acne scars.
  • It treats only the affected area sparing the rest of the skin.
  • It stimulates the healing and the production of collagen.

Active Fx and Deep Fx:

The Active Fx targets the superficial skin whereas Deep Fx acts upon the deeper skin cells.


  • It is the latest technology for skin refurbishing.
  • It involves exposure to small pin sized laser to the affected area.
  • The intensity and depth of the laser can be controlled easily.

By Laser Treatment  Treatments For Acne

Laser treatment has been proved to be very useful for treating the acne scars.

This is all you must know about the common problem of Acne. You can always avoid acne by keeping your skin clean and breathing. However, if you have a severe acne problem, you must consult the doctor and look for the best available treatment.


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