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The Different Types of Acne and How To Treat Them

No one is immune to the discomfort and mild embarrassment of developing a pimple on their skin. But there's a big difference between finding occasional pimples on your forehead and dealing with the lesions of a skin irritation known as acne. While pimples come and go, acne can be far more resilient and difficult to alleviate without undergoing specific treatments—and identifying these treatments often requires a visit to the dermatologist or skin specialist.

If you're struggling with acne, it's easy to get discouraged. But effective treatment for your acne can be found by identifying the type of acne you're dealing with and then working with a skincare professional to determine the best approach to treatment.

What's the Difference Between Acne and Pimples?

Many people wrongly believe that pimples and acne are the same conditions. While both of these skin maladies have characteristics in common with one another, it's important to understand the distinct differences between these two conditions, as well as how to tell them apart from one another.

While individuals suffering from acne will have pimples developing on their skin, acne is not simply a collection of pimples. Rather, acne is a skin disease, and the development of pimples is one of its most common symptoms. Although the cause of acne is not fully known, skin experts have identified certain causal links between acne and the presence of blocked pores, inflammation, and skin irritation.

Similarly, treating and eliminating a pimple does not necessarily bring you any closer to getting rid of your acne. For full, lasting relief, you will need to consult with an acne doctor to identify an effective treatment that will address the underlying causes of your pimples and acne.

What are the Different Types of Acne?

Although acne is often referred to as a single skin condition, it actually refers to a whole category of sub-types of acne that may afflict an individual. In some cases, multiple types of acne may be present at the same time. These common types of acne include:

  • Blackheads. This develops when pores become clogged with dead skin cells and other debris. They often appear dark in appearance.

  • Whiteheads. These small, white bumps develop when pores become closed up underneath the skin.

  • Papules. These red, sore spots become inflamed when the walls of the pore start to break down. The redness typically spreads far beyond the inflamed pore.

  • Pustules. Similar to a papule, pustules are pus-filled bumps that typically feature a yellow or white head at the top, although they're much larger and inflamed than a whitehead. Pustules are one of the most common stages of a pimple, and they can also be one of the most commonly identified types of acne.

  • Nodules. Nodules develop when papules and pustules grow and move deeper into the skin. Once a nodule has developed, it can't be remedied without a visit to a doctor.

  • Cysts. Cysts are even larger than nodules and are filled with pus, bacteria, and other debris. They can become a risk of more serious infection if nod treated by a specialist.

When Does Acne Stop Developing?

Acne is a potential risk at any point in adolescence or adulthood. However, it is most likely to occur during a person's teenage years, when hormonal fluctuations and increased oils on the skin create a higher risk of pore blockages that lead to pimples and acne. While up to 50 million Americans experience at least minor cases of acne every year, up to 85 percent of all teenagers deal with acne at some Although in their lives, underscoring just how common this condition is.

While the risk of acne will decline over time, there's no set age at which acne stops occurring. Individuals with severe cases of acne may have their conditions persist longer into adulthood than other individuals with mild cases—especially if acne treatments are not administered. Even in cases where adults no longer experience acne on a regular basis, a number of risk factors, including stress and skin hygiene, can cause new acne breakouts to occur at any time.

What Are My Treatment Options for Acne?

Eager to find a solution to your skin's acne issues? A number of treatment options may be able to help, including the following:

  • Medicated acne lotion or gel. A number of prescription topical treatments containing retinoids or other active medications may be prescribed to address moderate to severe acne.

  • Acne purging. Skin purging treatments, which accelerate cell loss in an effort to clear out dead skin and other blockages causing acne, can make the appearance of acne worse at the start of these treatments, although they can offer long-term relief.

  • Topical antibiotics for acne. Antibiotics can kill bacteria causing or exacerbating acne.

  • Oral medication. More severe cases of acne may require treatment from oral prescription medications.

  • Light therapy. While research on these light therapies is limited, a wide range of anecdotal evidence suggests that these therapies can successfully alleviate acne for many patients.

  • Peels and extractions. More aggressive treatment options, including chemical peels and specialized extraction services performed by a skin specialist, may be needed if acne doesn't respond to other treatments. The downside of these treatments is that they can lead to scarring.

If you're struggling to manage acne on your own, you don't have to suffer through this skin condition alone. A skin doctor can help diagnose your case of acne, better understand its causes, and explore possible treatments to reduce its severity and even eliminate acne altogether. Contact a skin specialist today to seek answers and solutions to your condition.

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