Acne Vulgaris is the most common type of acne. Whiteheads, blackheads, papules, and pustules are the kinds of lesions most associated with this type of acne. Following is an explanation for the various types of acne vulgaris:
Whiteheads: Whiteheads occur as a result of a pore that has become completely blocked. Sebum (oil), bacteria, and dead skin cells become trapped, causing a white colored bump on the surface. Whiteheads normally dissappear relatively quickly, having a life span of only a few days (unlike blackheads, which can persist for a long time).
Blackheads: Blackheads are present when pores become partially blocked. Some of the trapped bacteria, sebum (oil) and dead skin cells escape through the partial opening of the pore and out towards the surface. Melanin (a naturally occurring pigment) reacts with oxygen and thus causes a dark coloration to appear on the surface of the blocked pore. .
Papules: Papules are lesions that become inflamed and are red in color. These tender bumps on the skin’s surface have no visible head. Papules usually occur as the result of a follicle wall breaking which then allows cellular debris and bacteria to spill into the skin. A papule often becomes a pustule. It is very important that you do not squeeze a papule as it will only worsen the breakout.
Pustules: A pustule is a pimple that becomes inflamed. The center of a pustules is usually white or yellow and is surrounded by red inflamed skin. This light colored center is pus, sebaceous matter and other cellular debris. Pustules be very small to fairly large in size.
Severe Acne Vulgaris
Severe acne vulgaris is characterized by nodules and cysts.
Nodules: Nodular acne are significantly larger than regular acne and often painful. This type of acne can last a very long time (couple of months). Nodules are large, hard bumps that exist just under the surface of the skin. They are the result of follicle wall ruptures that can occur deep within the dermis. Debris from the ruptured follicle empties into the dermis and infects the adjoining follicles. Unfortunately scarring is of common with this type of acne. Furthermore, this acne does not completely heal, it can leave behind an impaction which can repeatedly flare up.
Cysts: An cystic acne does look similar to nodule acne, but these lesions are filled with pus and are typically 5mm + in diameter. These cysts are usually painful and scarring is common. Cysts develop when a deep rupture of the follicle wall occurs. When this happens, a membrane forms and it surrounds the infection in the dermis. As the cyst slowly moves towards the surface of the skin, it damages healthy skin along the way, destroying the follicle.
Acne Conglobata: Acne conglobata is a highly inflammatory type of cystic acne. It is characterized by extremely deep inflammatory nodules that connect under the dermis to other nodules. Acne conglobata is very difficult to treat and leaves severe scarring. These large, often interconnected, lesions are often painful. They can develop on the face, upper arms, chest, back, buttocks, and the thighs. Acne conglobata can persist for many years.
Acne Fulminans: Acne fulminans is a sudden onset of acne conglobata characterized by severe nodulocystic and ulcerating acne lesions. This acne typically affects young men and leaves severe scarring. Other symptons of acne fulminans include the onset of fever and a general aching of joints occurs in conjunction with outbreak. This form of acne very resistent to antibiotics.
Acne Rosacea’s appearance is very similar to acne vulgaris. In fact these two types of acne are often mistaken the other.
Rosacea: Rosacea affects millions of people, most of whom are over the age of 30. It presents as a red colored rash and is typically affects the cheeks, chin, nose and forehead. The redness is often accompanied by bumps, pimples and blemishes. Sometimes blood vessels in a person’s face can become more visible. Rosacea is far more common in women, but men are often more severely affected. Untreated Rosacea can cause the swelling of one’s nose as well as the growth of excess tissue.
Gram-Negative Folliculitis: Gram-Negative Folliculitis is an bacterial infection that is characterized by cysts and pustules. This type of acne is a complication of extended antibiotic treatment of acne vulgaris. This type of acne rarely occures. Gram-Negative Folliculitis is responsive to treatment.
Pyoderma Faciale (Rosacea Fulminans): Pyderma faciale is another type of severe acne. Pyoderma faciale only affects females between 20 – 40 years old. This type of acne is characterized by sizable and painful nodules, sores and pustules resulting in severe scarring. It’s onset is rapid and can affect females with no prior history of acne. The condition often persists for approximately a year.