Acne Types

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This article describes the different types of acne and conditions it causes. We treat acne of all types as well as provide treatments to get rid of acne scars in New Jersey area.

Acne Vulgaris: Caused by hormones and other etiology, Acne Vulgaris is undoubtedly the most common form of acne. Although acne tends to diminish and even disappear over time, usually when the afflicted reaches his/her early twenties, there are actually some cases wherein individuals continue to suffer from it well into their thirties, forties, and even beyond. Suffice to say, there really is no foolproof way to predict how long acne will last in any individual. This applies to the various types of pimples, as well as acne lesions such as whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts.

THE FOLLOWING TYPES OF ACNE SPOTS CONSTITUTES MILD TO MODERATE ACNE VULGARIS:

  • Whiteheads
  • Blackheads
  • Papules

Whiteheads: Whiteheads, as the name suggests, are white spots that occur on the surface of the skin. These are formed when a combination of oils, sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cell fragments are trapped within hair follicles, blocking the pores and producing firm to hard plugs that close off the follicle openings on the skin’s surface. Unlike blackheads, whiteheads are unable to oxidize and turn brown because they have no contact with oxygen. Instead, milia (or milium in singular) are formed, characterized by light-colored, often yellow-white, lumps. Acne, especially cystic acne, can occur when bacteria is added to the blockage. Whiteheads are often caused by excessive cellular exfoliation that block or clog the follicles quickly. A good number of skin specialists also believe that some individuals are more conducive to forming firm plugs because the sebum produced by their skin are drier than normal, leading to increased occurrences of whiteheads and blackheads. Normally, the life cycle of a whitehead progresses faster than a blackhead.

Blackheads: Like whiteheads, blackheads are also formed when sebum (oil), bacteria, and dead skin cells are trapped in a follicle. The difference is that the pores are only partially blocked, allowing them to drain to the surface. These then react with melanin, skin pigmentation, and oxygen, causing the black color of the blackhead. Blackheads take a longer time to clear than whiteheads because they are significantly more stable. The addition of bacteria will also lead to acne.

Papules: Dermatologists generally describe papules as any small, circumscribed bump on the skin’s surface. These should not be mistaken for macules (flat, with surrounding skin) or vesicle (contains fluid). Papules are often inflamed, which is why they are usually pink or even red in color. Scarring occurs when papules are forcibly squeezed.

THE RESULTS OF SEVERE ACNE VULGARIS:

  • Nodules
  • Cysts

Nodules: Unlike the lesions already mentioned, nodular acne spots are so much more painful and significantly larger. They can also last for months, if left unchecked. Nodules are characterized by large, hard bumps under the surface of the skin, and these often lead to scarring. Attempting to squeeze such a lesion is absolutely discouraged as such an action would lead to severe trauma to the area and may even allow the lesion to last longer than it should. To prevent scarring and to lessen the swelling, consulting a dermatologist is strongly advised.

Cysts: Although acne cysts appear quite similar to nodules, they are actually pus-filled and can reach up to 5mm in diameter. Cystic acne can be very painful, and scarring is not uncommon. Leaving it alone is a much better course of action as squeezing it can cause it to be painfully inflamed and may even lead to deeper infection that could last for a long time. Again, a dermatologist can help lessen the swelling and prevent scarring.

Acne Rosacea: Acne Rosacea can easily be confused with Acne Vulgaris as these two types of acne are quite similar to each other.

Rosacea is generally more frequent in females, usually above the age of 30, but is actually more severe in men. Generally, the middle third of the face is affected, characterized by swelling and redness in the areas of the face that flush in excitement or embarrassment. Because other symptoms include the appearance of broken blood vessels (telangiectases), and in some cases, pustules and acne-like papules, Rosacea is often misdiagnosed as acne and mistreated with medications for acne.

While there is no known cure for Rosacea, it is a treatable condition. Early treatment is definitely recommended to prevent further damage to the skin. If left untreated, Rosacea can result in a condition called Rhinophyma, causing excessive tissue growth and swelling of the nose. If you think you may have rosacea, consult a dermatologist right away.

Acne Mechanica: When skin is consistently exposed to heat, friction, and unwanted pressure, it may develop Acne Mechanica.

A few situations that may cause Acne Mechanica:

  • The skin is unable to breathe because of some synthetic materials used in clothing, such as in athletes wearing headbands, etc.
  • Friction caused by tight clothing rubbing against the skin, such as women wearing bras with tight straps, etc.
  • Backpacks putting undue pressure on the skin.

Suffice to say, when the skin is covered too tightly with synthetic cloth with frequent rubbing and pressure, it becomes more vulnerable to Acne Mechanica.

WHO ARE MORE PRONE TO ACNE MECHANICA?

  • Acne Mechanica is often manifested in people who tend to develop body acne.
  • People with small comedones are also prone to Acne Mechanica because these comedones easily flare up when subjected to friction and mechanical pressure.

Acne Mechanica’s treatment is similar to that of Acne Vulgaris. Click here to learn more about acne treatments.

  • How to avoid Acne Mechanica:
    Wear loose-fitting clothing, or clothes that are not too tight.
    Headbands should be avoided.
    Constant pressure on the skin by any object such as backpacks should be decreased.
    Wipe off perspiration.
    Wearing clothes made of cotton will help.
    Washing yourself thoroughly after relieving your skin of any pressure helps, too.

There are also rare and more Severe Forms of Acne that can have both physical and psychological effects because they can be disfiguring, bringing about great hardship on the people who suffer them.

Some Severe Forms of Acne:

  • Acne Conglobata
  • Acne Fulminans
  • Gram-Negative Folliculitis
  • Pyoderma Faciale

Acne Conglobata: More common in males, Acne Conglobata is basically Acne Vulgaris at its most severe form. Often found on the face, back, chest, buttocks, upper arms, and thighs, Acne Conglobata has been known to cause severe scarring, even irrevocable disfigurement to the skin. Widespread blackheads, as well as a large number of often-interconnected lesions characterize this condition. It can stay active for many years, usually between ages 18 and 30 years old. Exactly what causes Acne Conglobata – or any other form of acne, for that matter – is unknown. It is often resistant to treatment, but aggressive treatment with isotretinoin (Accutane) over time can control it significantly.

Acne Fulminans: This normally afflicts young males, as it is basically a more abrupt onset of Acne Conglobata. Symptoms include ulcerating and severely nodulystic acne. Extreme scarring is also common, similar to Acne Conglobata. What sets Acne Fulminans apart is the presence of fever and joint and body pain. However, this does not mean that Acne Fulminans can be treated with antibiotics. Dermatologists normally prescribe oral steroids and isotretinoin (Accutane).

Gram-Negative Folliculitis: This is basically a bacterial infection, as evident in the presence of cysts and pustules, possibly as the result of treating Acne Vulgaris with antibiotics in the long term. It is still unknown whether it occurs more in males or in females, as this is a very rare condition. Gram-Negative Folliculitis has been effectively treated with isotretinoin (Accutane).

Pyoderma Faciale: Characterized by large, painful nodules, sores, and pustules, Pyoderma Faciale is a severe facial acne condition that only affects women, usually from 20 to 40 years old. It can occur on anyone, even on females with no history of acne. It only occurs on the face and lasts no longer than a year. However, it can begin and spread rather quickly, and can cause severe scarring in a very short period of time.

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