Do you think you just get breakouts, but don’t have “acne”? Unfortunately, we have to say, “Think again.” Whether you suffer from occasional breakouts associated with your monthly menstrual cycles, blackheads on your nose and chin, a full case of teenage acne or embarrassing pimples on your back or chest, it’s all acne in one form or another.
Here is a basic overview of the different kinds of acne.
When a lot of dead skin cells collect on your skin, they “stick” together and create a plug. When this plug forms and starts trapping oil and bacteria in the hair follicle and also stays below the skin’s surface, it’s called a closed comedo, or a whitehead. The white debris you see is composed of trapped oil and dead white blood cells.
If the plug enlarges and widens the pore, it’s called an open comedo, or a blackhead. Blackheads are not caused by trapped dirt, even though that’s what they look like, so you can’t wash them away. The black or gray color comes from a buildup of melanin (the dark pigment of your skin) and oxidized oil.
Inflammatory acne occurs when your immune system responds to the bacteria in the hair follicle and the plug. The degree of inflammation associated with a breakout determines the size, tenderness and potential to scar.
These are small- to medium-sized pink or red dome-shaped bumps that often feel tender to the touch.
These lesions have a yellow or white center with a red base. Pustules form when a plug deep inside a pore traps oil and bacteria, attracting white blood cells to fight the infection. The greater the inflammation, the redder and larger the pustule. Pus is simply the collection of dead white blood cells.
These are large, deep and painful bumps that initially fill with blood, then with pus. Nodules can linger under the skin’s surface for weeks or even months. They can hurt so badly you may be tempted to squeeze them. Persistent nodules can harden into deep cysts. Both nodules and cysts may leave deep scars. Seeking treatment from a dermatologist is recommended.