Dermatologists and Proactiv+ co-developers Katie Rodan, M.D. and Kathy Fields, M.D. explain the various types of acne, as well as who gets acne and why.
As dermatologists for over 25 years, doctors Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields have seen and treated every type of acne. Recognizing the different forms of acne is your first step in understanding the cause and treatment of your particular type.
Acne is categorized into two main groups: Non-inflammatory acne, also known as comedones, includes blackheads and whiteheads. Inflammatory acne, which includes papules, pustules, nodules and cysts, results from the body's fight to contain an infection. The noticeable difference is that non-inflammatory acne is not red and painful because the body has not yet reacted to an infection with infection-fighting white blood cells. Inflammatory acne is all that. Painful, deep, red and swollen, it often hurts on many levels. It can last for weeks to months and leave temporary dark marks and rarely, permanent scars, so it's extra important to treat it early.
We define acne by its severity, helping you to know how to treat it correctly. When you have several comedones but very few papules and pustules, then you have mild acne. If you have several or numerous comedones and several inflamed papules and pustules existing together, it's mild to moderate acne. If you also have some nodules along with papules and pustules, it is moderate acne. Deep cysts or any type of acne that leaves behind permanent pitted or saucer-shaped scars is categorized as severe.