The Blog

August 25, 2023

Types of Acne (And How to Treat Them)

Types of Acne (And How to Treat Them)

By Ashley Shkodra, Holistic Esthetician in The Clear Skin Solution

Let’s dive into the world of acne, something we all know about but rarely get into the nitty-gritty of its different manifestations. Acne isn’t just about looks – it’s a whole package deal that can mess with your physical, emotional and psychological side. From annoying blackheads to fiery flare-ups, it’s a lot more than skin deep. With millions of people from early teens to adults experiencing acne, it all starts by knowing what “type” you are dealing with so you’re better prepared to tackle those suckers.

So, let’s set sail on this adventure to break down the world of acne.

Here’s the scoop: acne can be divided into two main categories – inflammatory and non-inflammatory. But hang on, every acne case is like a unique puzzle, often mixing bits from both categories.

Types of acne shown in a column.

Non-Inflammatory Acne

First up on the types of acne list is the non-inflammatory – the easier bunch to handle.

Non-inflammatory acne is a bit easier to treat, and it doesn’t come with the pain and soreness that inflammation brings along.

Whiteheads (Closed comedones) 

Whiteheads are arguably one of the most common types of acne, in the early stages of formation they can also be classified as “texture” on the skin. 

Here is what happens – Pores become clogged with a mix of dead skin cells and sebum which are then trapped under layers of skin which can make them harder to extract and get rid of. 

How to treat: Exfoliation can work wonders for this form of acne. By sloughing off layers of dead skin you make way for the whiteheads and congestion to come through. 

Alpha Hydroxy Acids like glycolic acid can be great forms of chemical exfoliation. Natural enzymes like the ones found in pineapple, pumpkin or papaya also are great options, the enzymatic activity eats away at the dead skin and leaves you with an overall smoother complexion. 

Tried + Loved Products: 

  1. Reflect Effect AHA Smoothing Mask – BEAUTYCOUNTER
  2. Green Papaya and Lime Mask – Living Libations 
  3. Vitaminscrub Antioxidant scrub cleanser – CLEARSTEM

Blackheads 

Staying true to their name, blackheads are open comedones, often taking residence on the nose. They occur when pores turn into havens for oil buildup, dead skin cells, and occasionally bacteria. The characteristic dark hue happens when the buildup has contacted air and oxidized. Truth is – that just means your blackheads are not trapped underneath epidermal layers but rather superficial and ready to come out. 

Sidenote – It’s important to be able to differentiate between a blackhead and a clogged pore. Sebaceous filaments are pores that fill up with oil and dead skin cells. This is a normal part of the skin’s functioning, our pores are the only way for oil, sweat and toxins to be excreted from our body. Sebaceous filaments can appear dark but there is nothing to extract. Stay consistent with your skincare routine and regular exfoliating! 

How to Treat: 

Extractions done by a professional can be very effective. Typically this form of acne is easiest to extract since it is most likely superficial. Extracting physically removes the buildup happening in those pores and can remove the blackhead altogether. The main difference between inflammatory acne and comedonal acne is – bacteria. 

When the gunk that clogs your pores mixes with bacteria, it creates an infection that causes swelling. 

Tried + Loved Products: 

  1. 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliator – Paula’s Choice 
  2. Counterecontrol Clear Pore Cleanser – BEAUTYCOUNTER
  3. Niacinamide Serum – The Inkey List

Inflammatory Acne

Now, onto the inflammatory types of acne – the more complex ones.

Inflammatory acne comes in various degrees of intensity – mild, moderate and severe. Unlike the non-inflammatory types, these guys bring bacteria to the party. When the gunk in your pores meets these little troublemakers, you end up with red, swollen, and sometimes painful pimples. Other reasons your acne can become inflammatory are: poor sleep hygiene, high sugar diets, stress and underlying gut dysbiosis. 

Papules 

Papules appear as small, raised bumps on the surface of the skin, they are firm to the touch and do not have any pus or fluid in them. This form of acne often involves an immune response and is sensitive or tender to touch. We’ll often call them “Little red dots with nothing inside”

How to Treat: 

Treating papules often involves addressing the underlying causes of inflammation and reducing bacteria on the skin’s surface. In this case, working with holistic practitioners to get down to the root cause of the inflammatory response and be extremely beneficial. In the meantime, it’s important to be gentle with papules. Use calming ingredients like arnica, chamomile, calendula, jojoba oil etc to keep the inflammation at bay.

Maintain a consistent gentle skincare routine and use non comedogenic  products with ingredients that will not clog the pores.

Tried + Loved Products: 

  1. Hydraberry Moisture Mask – CLEARSTEM
  2. Blue Aura Micellar Water – Odacite
  3. Mighty Plump Ceramide Water Cream – BEAUTYCOUNTER 

Pustules 

These are like the red, swollen VIPs with a pus-filled crown. They show up when your hair follicles get all riled up from oil, dead skin, and bacteria. Remember, don’t pop these – it only makes things worse. Keep things clean and use antibacterial treatments like salicylic acid.

How to treat: Hands off! Squeezing pustules is a bad idea – it can make things worse, even lead to scars or spread bacteria. Stay hygienic – change your pillowcases regularly, use clean towels, and consider antibacterial remedies like salicylic acid. Oh, and don’t forget about working on that internal inflammation.

Tried + Loved Products: 

  1. Countercontrol SOS Acne Spot Treatment – BEAUTYCOUNTER
  2. Refresh Papaya and Salicylic Cleanser – Three Ships
  3. Clarifying Mask – Tata Harper 

Cysts 

Cystic acne is one of the more severe forms of inflammatory acne that sits far below the surface of your skin. Pain and discomfort can be key characteristics of this form of acne.   Cysts can feel soft to the touch and can sometimes feel like they are filled with liquid but cannot be extracted. Never attempt to extract Cysts! 

How to treat: Treating cystic acne often requires a comprehensive and holistic approach to understand the cause of the cysts. While it may be challenging to prevent cystic acne, some things to minimize it are to keep with an anti-inflammatory skincare routine, avoid heat and excessive touching. 

Tried + Loved Products: 

  1. Clear Skin Probiotic Mask – Eminence Organics 
  2. Creme Dermopurifiante – Biologique Recherche
  3. Countermatch Refresh Foaming Cleanser – BEAUTYCOUNTER 

 “Acne is an external symptom of an internal issue.” 

Katie Stewart

No matter what types of acne you’re dealing with, you have to remember: Acne isn’t just a surface-level issue.  Whether you’re looking in the mirror at seemingly innocent blackheads all the way to those fiery cysts — any chronic type of acne signals an internal imbalances. A lot of this journey is influenced by things going on inside your body. It’s like the tip of the iceberg – what you see on your skin is just a small part of a bigger story.

Like we do with our clients in The Clear Skin Solution, adopting a holistic approach not only nurtures healthier skin but addresses the underlying causes that can fuel this condition. So, don’t just see your skin as a battlefield with acne; see it as a canvas that tells a story about your overall health. When you have that knowledge and that holistic approach, you’re not just treating acne – you’re setting the stage for clearer, healthier skin that shines from the inside out.

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Let's get your skin finally cleared up.

Hint: acne is an external symptom of an internal issue. That's why years of prescriptions, medicated creams and fancy facials haven't gotten you the results you're after. Getting rid of acne is an inside job and we're here to help you do it.

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Cupcake ipsum dolor sit. Amet icing candy sesame snaps toffee oat cake jelly I love macaroon.

I love sweet bonbon. Tiramisu I love apple pie. Lollipop macaroon pastry danish. Sweet roll jujubes gummies tootsie roll fruitcake I love liquorice. Wafer chocolate halvah. Liquorice apple pie lollipop sweet roll powder. Oat cake sesame snaps marshmallow cookie jujubes. Croissant pie I love croissant cookie.

client love

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Cupcake ipsum dolor sit. Amet icing candy sesame snaps toffee oat cake jelly I love macaroon.

I love sweet bonbon. Tiramisu I love apple pie. Lollipop macaroon pastry danish. Sweet roll jujubes gummies tootsie roll fruitcake I love liquorice. Wafer chocolate halvah. Liquorice apple pie lollipop sweet roll powder. Oat cake sesame snaps marshmallow cookie jujubes. Croissant pie I love croissant cookie.

client love

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