Understanding Acne

Did you know that there are about 50 different types of acne?
Well, don’t let that overwhelm you. The most common type of acne is Vulgaris, often caused by your genes and bacteria. The result: whiteheads, blackheads or cystic acne. Small blemishes are called comedones while larger, more painful lesions may be cystic acne. And there’s a difference between the occasional breakout and chronic inflammatory acne.
Where do most breakouts occur?
Face
Chest
Shoulders
Back
Not all blemishes are the same.
For mild to moderate acne, you may have blackheads and/or whiteheads
More severe acne, you may face large, swollen, more painful blemishes, including nodules (hard bumps on chest and back) and cysts (soft fluid-filled bumps that spill into surrounding skin)
How does bacteria turn into a blemish?
When the environment is right, too much oil combined with dead skin cells clog the hair follicle, creating bumps, a.k.a. whiteheads and blackheads.
What are blackheads and why are they black?
Blackheads are small blemishes that open at the skin surface, filled with excess oil and dead skin cells. You may think that dirt causes them to look black. However, the black color is due to irregular reflections of light coming from clogged hair follicles.
What are whiteheads and why are they white?
Closed blemishes have whiteheads, usually caused by your own body. This happens when oil and skin cells prevent a clogged hair follicle from opening at the skin’s surface. The white color is a combination of oil, bacteria and sometimes fluid.
What about large bumps that rise like a volcano underneath the skin?
Think large, red bumps sometimes filed with fluid. Developing deep under the skin, they feel firm to the touch and are often painful. These are inflammatory lesions. While they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, these bumps are often frustrating to treat.
Next week, we’ll talk about various acne treatments.
 
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