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Understanding Different Types of Acne
Learn about types of acne and how to treat them
There are many different types of acne. I don't just mean how everyone breaks out differently, either: I mean actual different types of acne. They exist, and they really affect how you treat your skin conditions.
Whether you deal with chronic acne or periodic outbreaks, it's helpful to understand causes of acne, types of acne, and all the ins and outs that help you treat -- and prevent! -- acne breakouts.
There are two primary types of acne: inflammatory and noninflammatory. They work out pretty much how you would think: inflammatory acne swells up and gets that beautiful Rudolph look while noninflammatory acne at least has the courtesy to stay flush to your skin.
Noninflammatory acne basically refers to blackheads or whiteheads. If you want to really impress people, you can go ahead and use the scientific name: comedones. (I just like to call them a pain in the neck). You get these when oil and dead skin block your hair follicles. With blackheads, you actually see those hair follicles (which is why they're black). Whiteheads are the same thing, but they close themselves off.
You may think that all remaining types of acne are pimples, but actually, there are four different types of acne that can blow up in your face (not literally, of course...).
Pimples is one of them: painful, bright red swellings full of pus. We've all had these and we all just LOVE them. Another technical name for you: pimples are also known as pustules. Papules, on the other hand, are smaller, and instead of containing puss, they're another indication of infection in the hair follicles. Like pimples, they can get quite red and sore.
Both of these types of acne occur on the surface of your skin, but there are two types that actually happen beneath your skin. Nodules occur when there's a deeper infection in the hair follicle and the lump happens beneath the surface, creating big, hard, painful lumps. Cysts are more like underskin pimples: full of puss, big and ugly, and the most likely types of acne to cause scars.
Choosing the best acne treatments
You may be thinking so what? They're all zits, and I hate them. Just tell me how to get rid of them.
Basically, acne treatments remain the same no matter what type of acne you have. There's no specialized treatment for certain types. However, it's useful to recognize the different types of acne. For one thing, if you're a pimple squeezer -- and I hope you're not -- you should at least know that there's no point squeezing blackheads and whiteheads, and if you squeeze cysts, you're creating a lot of future issues.
It's also helpful to recognize what type of acne you're prone to if you visit a dermatologist, or when you're choosing a facial cleanser. Recognizing different types of acne may not provide a cure, but it can help you make better choices.
More Acne Myths to Forget
There are so many acne myths to avoid. Are you falling for these?
If you were to ask a group of people experienced with dealing with their acne their foremost beliefs about it, you'd doubtless end up with a distressing number of pure acne myths. Fortunately, you have us to help you separate the wheat from the chaff...without paying high dermatologist fees!
Here Comes the Sun
You've probably heard the rumor that exposure to sunlight will dry up your acne; we've certainly discussed the possibility a number of times here. The truth is, the news about acne and the sun is mixed -- and how effective the sun is (or isn't) at clearing up your acne is based partly on your genetics anyway.
First of all: there's no doubt that too much sun is bad for you. It damages the skin, ultimately causing MORE acne. If you're prone to acne and get a sunburn, expect a breakout within two weeks.
Otherwise, about 15 minutes a day for the light-skinned and up to 30 minutes a day for the darker-skinned among us may be somewhat effective.
Some acne medications, especially antibiotics, cause something called photosensitivity. When this happens, even limited exposure to the sun can damage your skin. The result? Worse acne down the road.
Tetracycline and doxycycline are notorious offenders, though erythromycin and Bactrim can be just as bad. Ironically, medications like benzoyl peroxide and Accutane can also cause photosensitivity. Be very careful out there!
You might think that you can't be too clean when it comes to acne -- but you can. Surface dirt is less likely to cause acne than naturally produced oils that clog the interiors of your skin pores.
If you scrub your face too much, especially with a washcloth, you're likely to cause skin irritation -- which may translate into more blemishes. So don't wash your face too hard, too often, or with a coarse cloth. Just clean your face gently, ideally with your hands, a few times a day.
Can mental stress cause acne? The jury's out on this one, but the answer is, probably not -- at least, not in and of itself. Some stress medications may produce acne as a side effect. Otherwise, there's no clear connection between acne and stress.
But to repeat, physical stresses that cause skin damage may trigger acne. That's why sunburns sometimes result in nasty breakouts, as mentioned above.
The lesson here? Don't abuse your skin, whether by scrubbing too much or allowing it to be damaged, even by the sun. And don't let these acne myths lead you astray!