Identifying acne - anika skincare article two - acne, blackheads, milia, cysts, rosacea acne

The different types of acne and identifying what type you have. Article 2

June 14, 2021


The different types of acne and identifying what type you have 


In last week's blog, we talked about what acne is and what types of things can cause acne or contribute to it. Now it is important that we understand the different types of acne and how to identify them in order to find the right treatment method.  


Acne Vulgaris is the name that doctors use to refer to common acne. This is the presence of blackheads, whiteheads, and many other forms of pimples on the skin. Breakouts most commonly appear on the face, chest, shoulders, and back. Mild acne can usually be improved by the use of over-the-counter treatments, however, more severe forms may have to be treated by a dermatologist. 

Common types of acne






A comedo is also known as a basic acne lesion and it is a hair follicle that has become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. These can develop into bumps called whiteheads and blackheads.  

- Products that are called “comedogenic” trigger comedones 

- Makeup labeled “non comedogenic” is less likely to clog pores and contribute to acne 

Topical treatments that are applied directly onto the face are often effective in controlling excess sebum and unclogging existing comedones. (Topicals include- azelaic acid, benzoyl-peroxide, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, retinoids, and sulfur) 



A blackhead is a comedone that opens at the surface of the skin. These breakouts are filled with excess oil and dead skin cells. When comedones turn black, the color is often mistaken for dirt. The black hue is actually the result of the irregular reflection of light coming from clogged hair follicles.  

- hormones 

- heredity 

- oil-based beauty products 

- stress and anxiety 

- medications 

- diet 

Blackheads can frequently be treated with over-the-counter medications 


Comedones that remain closed at the surface of the skin are called whiteheads. This occurs when oil and skin cells prevent a clogged hair follicle from opening.  

- hormones 

- heredity 

- oil-based beauty products 

- stress and anxiety 

- medications 

- diet 

Many of the same over-the-counter medicines that treat blackheads are also effective against whiteheads 


Papules are comedones that become inflamed and when they do, they form small red or pink bumps on the skin. This type of pimple is often sensitive to touch so picking or squeezing can make inflammation worse and may lead to scarring. Usually, a large number of papules indicates moderate to severe acne. 

- bacteria 

- excess oil production 

- excess activity of androgens (male sex hormones) 

Retinoids and topical antibiotics 


Pustules are also inflamed pimples. They look similar to whiteheads, but have a red ring around the bump. The bump is typically filled with white or yellow pus. You should avoid picking or squeezing pustules as this can cause scarring and/or dark spots to develop on the skin. 

- build up of pus under your skin or in a pore 

- pustules can be caused by acne, psoriasis, rosacea, chickenpox, IgA pemphigus, and smallpox 

Gently wash the area with cleanser twice a day and use a clean cloth each time. Apply an over-the-counter treatment. Stay away from products that irritate the skin like cosmetics or sunscreens. Avoid touching, picking, or popping pustules as this can make the condition worse and lead to infection or scarring. If your pustules don’t get better within a few weeks you should see a dermatologist or doctor so they can prescribe you medication to help.  


Nodules are large, inflamed bumps that are firm to the touch. They are developed deep within the skin and are often very painful.  

- overactive oil glands 

- an abnormal buildup of dead cells within the pore 

- an overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria 

Nodules should be treated by a dermatologist since they can scar. Over-the-counter treatments may not be powerful enough to clear them up. Prescription drugs are often effective.  


Cysts are large, pus-filled lesions that are similar in appearance to boils. Cysts can also be painful and lead to scarring. People who develop nodules and cysts are usually considered to have a more severe form of acne.  

- hormonal changes like menstrual cycle, pregnancy, birth control, the use of hormone therapy, and stress 

- greasy cosmetics, cleansers, lotions, and clothing 

- high levels of humidity and sweating 

- genetics 

- some drugs and chemicals like corticosteroids, lithium, phenytoin, and isoniazid  

Cysts should be treated by a dermatologist because they can be painful and may also scar.  


Other Types of Acne 


Mild Acne - Acne can fall under the “mild” category if you have fewer than 20 whiteheads or blackheads, fewer than 15 inflamed bumps, or fewer than 30 total lesions. Mild acne is usually treated with over-the-counter medicine, but may take up to eight weeks to see a significant improvement. 


Moderate Acne  Acne can fall under the “moderate” category if you have 20 to 100 whiteheads or blackheads, 15 to 50 inflamed bumps, or 30 to 125 total lesions. Prescription medication is often recommended by dermatologists for moderate to severe acne. It can take several weeks to notice an improvement, and your acne can appear to be worse before it gets better.  


Severe Nodulocystic Acne -  People who have multiple inflamed cysts and nodules have what is called severe nodulocystic acne. This acne may turn deep red or purple and often leaves scars. If treated correctly by a dermatologist, the scarring can be minimized. In some cases, doctors may inject corticosteroids directly into the nodules and cysts to reduce the size and pain of inflammation.  


Acne Conglobata -  This is one of the severest forms of acne. It involves many inflamed nodules that are connected under the skin to other nodules. It can appear on the neck, chest, arms, and buttocks. Acne conglobata often leaves scars. This type of acne is more common in men and can sometimes be caused by the consumption of steroids or testosterone. Treatment by a dermatologist in a timely manner is crucial.  


Acne Mechanica -  Caused by heat, friction, and pressure against the skin, acne mechanica is often the result of wearing sports gear such as a helmet or baseball cap. It is sometimes referred to as “sports-induced acne” because it occurs frequently in athletes. To prevent this type of acne, wear an absorbent material under sports equipment and shower immediately after activity.  


Product Recommendations 


Anikabeauty offers many products to help treat all different types of acne. And, also skincare treatments for clients that live locally.

I am also available for phone consultations for anyone living in the USA. My approach to acne is more holistic. I look at everything, lifestyle, foods, and other things that could be causes for the acne breakouts. Please read the series of articles on acne that are on my website to learn more information about acne. 

I am a licensed Aesthetician, specializing in anti-aging and acne. Two of the skincare brands are made just for Anika Skincare clients. These are clean beauty brands, made in small batches and contain natural and organic ingredients such as botanicals, essential oils, and do not contain anything toxic or harsh to the body or skin.

Please learn more about 

Essential Dermaceuticals advanced skincare 

and Essential Skincare by Anikabeauty

Another brand that works well for acne skin types is Visual Changes Skincare International.