There’s More to Acne than Pimples and Zits

Acne is synonymous with clogged pours, leading to the formation of (blackheads, whiteheads), and in extreme case deep lumps (cysts or nodules), which can occur on the chest, upper back, shoulders and even your arms.

Dermatologists (skin experts) and medical doctors have discovered several variants of acne.

Types of acne

Acne Vulgaris (frequently referred to as common acne), consists of several type of skin lesions; including blackhead, whitehead, pustules, nodules and cyst.

Moderate to mind acne vulgaris is characterized by:

Blackheads are generally caused by partial clogging of the pores. Their black appearance is the direct cause of melanin pigment, which comes from dead skin cells. Blackheads can be fairly large, stable, and often take a long time to heal or clear.

Whiteheads on the other hand are caused when the skin pores are completely blocked. Their white color comes from the bacteria, which turns the sebum (oil) trapped in the pores into free fatty acid. . The whitehead differs in color from the blackhead because the opening of the plugged sebaceous follicle to the skin’s surface is closed or very narrow, in contrast to the distended follicular opening of the blackhead.


Neither blackheads nor whiteheads should be squeezed or picked open, unless extracted by a dermatologist under sterile conditions. Tissue injured by squeezing or picking can become infected by staphylococci, streptococci and other skin bacteria.

Papules are small, red, tender bumps or spots. A group of very small papules and microcomedones may be almost invisible but have a “sandpaper” feel to the touch. A papule is caused by localized cellular reaction to the process of acne.

Pustules are larger, red and inflamed-pus filled spots.  

On the other hand, severe acne vulgaris is characterized by:

Nodules are large and hard bumps under the skin’s surface.  Unlike a papule, a nodule is characterized by inflammation, extends into deeper layers of the skin and may cause tissue destruction that result in scarring. A nodule may be very painful.

Cysts are similar to nodules but can be severely inflamed and infected. 

Acne Rosacea more commonly found on adults ages 30 and above. It is a variant of acne which typically appears as a red rash on your nose, cheeks, forehead and chin. The redness is often accompanied by bumps and pimples. Blood vessels may also become more visible on the skin. People with this kind of acne rarely have pimples.  These flashes can be triggered by certain foods like spicy foods and alcohol.

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