We often get clients that come into our skincare clinic looking for help for their acne breakouts. Many are surprised to learn that not all acne is the same. There are different causes of acne, such as clogged pores, bacteria, hormones, ingrown hairs, and dead skin cells. But there are also different types of acne, and know which one you struggle with can help you properly treat it.


There are two different categories of acne, non-inflammatory and inflammatory. Within these categories are subcategories as well. Here are the different types of acne people can have.


Non-Inflammatory Acne

Almost everyone has non-inflammatory acne at some point, and included blackheads and whiteheads. This type of acne doesn’t typically cause swelling and can easily be treated with over the counter treatments. Clogged pores are a common cause for non-inflammatory acne, which means regular exfoliation treatments can help.



Blackheads are caused when oil and dead skin cells clog pores. The tops of the pores stay open, which allows the characteristic black color to be seen on the surface.



Whiteheads are caused when a pore gets clogged similarly to a blackhead. The main difference though is that the top of the pore closes up on whiteheads. It gives it the appearance of a small pump protruding from the skin. Due to the pore being closed, they can be a bit more difficult to treat than blackheads.


Inflammatory Acne

Inflammatory acne tends to be more serious and long-term than non-inflammatory acne. This type of acne is often red, swollen, and can be painful. Although excessive oil and dead skill cells can contribute, bacteria and hormones play a major role in inflammatory acne.



Papules are caused when the walls surrounding pores break down from inflammation. This causes the clogged pore to get hard and tender to the touch. The surrounding skin is often skin in color.



Pustules are what everyday pimples often are. They form similarly to papules, however, they are filled with yellow-white pus. These pimples come out from the skin and are usually red in color with a yellow or white top.



Nodules are clogged and swollen pores that endure further irritation than other inflammatory acne, causing them to grow larger. Unlike pustules and papules, nodules are deeper under the skin. Due to how deep they are, it’s generally best to have them treated with professional help.



Cysts are the largest form of acne and form as a result of a severe infection. This is the most common type of acne to cause acne scarring, so should be treated carefully. Cysts can develop when pores are clogged by a combination of bacteria, oil, and dead skill cells. They clog is deep within the skin, even further under than skin than nodules. Prescription medication is needed to treat cysts, and in some cases, surgery may be needed.


Contact us for a complimentary skin consultation to see how AFYA can help treat your acne or acne scars!



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