Types of Acne: The Breakdown

September 11, 2018

Types of Acne: The Breakdown

Acne has many faces and its definitely not a one type fits all skin condition. Acne Vulgaris or “common acne” shows itself as many different types of lesions which includeblackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, nodules and cysts. The following breakdown each subtype.  

Blackheads: Blackheads are uninfected clogged follicles that have the appearance of a small dark bump on the skin.

Whiteheads: Whiteheads are clogged follicles that are covered by a thin layer of skin and surface as white spots or bumps on the skin.

Papules: Papules are inflamed lesions that are red in appearance as well as sensitive and painful.

Pustules: Pustules are usually pus-filled and inflamed. They can be either white or yellow in coloring and if popped, can lead to acne scarring.

Nodules: This severe form of acne forms under the skin and usually do not contain pus however they are hard to the touch.

Cysts: Cysts are a severe form of acne that are inflamed and filled with pus. Cysts are usually painful and require medical care.

There are two different kinds of acne conditions beyond Acne Vulgaris, they include Acne Fulminansand Acne Mechanica.

Acne mechanica or AM is a common skin condition that is triggered by excess pressure, heat and friction on the skin and is often a frequented problem by athletes or those prone to acne. This type of acne forms as small bumps that can range from little comedons to inflamed lesions. Depending on the state of the condition AM can be treated with the use of creams, gels and even laser therapy. The prognosis for AM is typically good.

Acne fulminans is a very rare and very severe form of acne that can plague the male adolescent, manifesting on both the chest and back. Characteristics include abrupt onset, bleeding crusts over the ulcers, changing fever and an enlarged liver and spleen. Other medical conditions such as anemia (lowered hemoglobin count) and raised white blood cell count usually exist with this type of acne. X-rays may show signs of osteolytic bone lesions.

This severe form of acne has been associated with increased androgens (male hormones), autoimmune complex disease and genetic predisposition. Individuals that suffer from this form of acne or believe they have it should be under immediate medical care. Treatment usually includes several medications that are taken together over the course of several months.   

Most all suffering from acne whether it be mild, moderate or severe show improvement within six months of an appointed treatment. If six months pass with no sign of improvement one should seek further medical treatment. Remember keeping a healthy consistent skin regime daily is key and can chart the course of your skin.

Further Resources and Additional Information:

American Academy of Dermatology
930 E. Woodfield Road Schaumburg, IL 60173
Phone: (866) 503-SKIN (7546)
Fax: (847) 240-1859
Website: http://www.aad.org


DermNet New Zealand. 2014. What is Acne Fulminans? Published April, 2017. https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/acne-fulminans/

bioClarity. 2018. What Type of Acne Do You Have? Types of Acne Explained. Published 2018. https://www.bioclarity.com/pages/what-type-of-acne-do-you-have

Your Medical Source. 2012. What Is the Long-Term Outlook for Acne? Published March 15, 2012. http://yourmedicalsource.com/content/what-long-term-outlook-acne

DoveMed. 2017. Acne Mechanica. Last updated January 3, 2017. https://www.dovemed.com/diseases-conditions/acne-mechanica/

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