What are the different types of acne?

For growing up, the growth of the different types of acne is really a major concern. For those who do not have problems involving the face, congratulations! For those who are crying over it, there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel!

Acne Vulgaris presents different types of acne lesions: blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts:

    • Blackheads: These are uninfected, clogged follicles that appear as a dark bump on the skin.
    • Whiteheads: Whiteheads are clogged follicles covered by a thin layer of skin that appear as white bumps or spots.
    • Papules: Papules are inflamed lesions that may appear red, and can be sensitive and painful.
    • Pustules: Pustules are inflamed lesions that are generally pus-filled. They may appear white or yellow, and popping pustules can lead to acne scarring.
    • Nodules: Nodules are a severe form of acne lesion that develop under the skin; they don’t generally contain pus but are hard to the touch.
    • Cysts: Cysts are a severe form of acne lesion that are inflamed and filled with pus. They are generally painful and require professional medical treatment.

Other Types of Acne

There are other different types of acne that are not considered Acne Vulgaris. They can look similar and exhibit comparable symptoms, but they tend to be much more difficult to treat and alleviate. If you are struggling with severe acne-like symptoms, it’s important to determine exactly what is causing your skin condition in order to access proper treatment.

Acne Conglobata

This is an uncommon and severe form of acne that’s characterized by painful abscesses and irregular scars, and features a large number of inflamed comedones, nodules, and draining sinus tracts all connected underneath the surface of the skin. It can begin with blackheads found in groups of two or three, and might be located on the face, chest, arms, buttocks, or neck. Pimples form around these blackheads and become engorged with pus. These will continue to grow until so filled with pus that they rupture. The pus within these nodules tends to be foul smelling. Once these have ruptured, the nodules may fuse together to create larger shapes and scab in the middle.

Generally, this skin condition affects men, as it has been associated with higher levels of testosterone, but women can also struggle with Acne Conglobata. The cause of this type of acne is unknown, but it tends to affect individuals between the ages of 18 and 30, and can persist until an individual reaches their 40s. Even after clearing up, this type of acne can cause permanent, significant damage to the skin.

Acne Fulminans

Acne Fulminans is a severe form of Acne Conglobata that is accompanied by horrible systemic symptoms. While very rare, this condition almost always affects adolescent males. This type of acne can come on suddenly and severely, with inflammatory and ulcerated nodular acne appearing on the chest or back. Also known as Acne Maligna, this condition can actually begin with pain and swelling in the joint and turn into nodular acne. These ulcerative acne lesions can bleed and crust over. In extreme cases, patients have experienced loss of appetite and weight loss, along with the potential for an enlarged liver or spleen.

Gram-Negative Folliculitis

This is actually a bacterial infection that closely mimics acne, but in reality is merely a pustular rash. Doctors can diagnose this condition with a Gram stain, but this condition can be difficult to treat, as the types of bacteria present in this condition don’t respond to most antibiotics used to treat severe acne. This infection can arise from continued use of certain antibiotics prescribed to treat acne; this is because the body builds up an immunity to these antibodies over time, resulting in worse acne flares. Gram-Negative Folliculitis is rare; it is estimated that four percent of individuals who have inflamed acne will develop this condition.

Pyoderma Faciale

Pyoderma Faciale can mimic both acne and rosacea, but it is neither. It was actually formerly classified as a variant of rosacea but has recently been reclassified as its own diagnostic entity.  This painful skin condition only afflicts women, usually between the ages of 20 and 40 years old, and its onset is quick and immediate. Individuals with this skin condition will exhibit cysts, pustules, and nodules seemingly overnight. There are usually no comedones present with this condition on its own, but it is known to accompany cases of Acne Vulgaris. Usually, this skin condition lasts no longer than a year and is not associated with the production of oil in the skin. This is a rare condition and is usually best treated with medication.

Acne Mechanica

Acne Mechanica is a specific form of acne that is triggered by excess heat, friction, or pressure on the skin. It usually affects younger athletes, soldiers, and students. Anything that traps heat against the body, whether it’s clothing or athletic equipment, can elicit a breakout. Heavy gear or bulky clothing worn tightly to the skin can also affect the prevalence of this skin condition. Those prone to body acne are more likely to be affected by this condition. This condition can be prevented with absorbent material and showering immediately after activity.


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