3 Common Types of Acne and How to Treat Them

3 Common Types of Acne and How to Treat Them

At least 50 million Americans suffer from acne, making it the most common skin condition in the United States. Acne causes physical symptoms, but it takes a big emotional toll on the people who suffer from it, too. 

Fortunately, there are more treatments than ever to help you manage your breakouts and enjoy clearer skin. 

As a top-rated dermatologist in Beverly Hills and Culver City, California, Vicki Rapaport, MD, has extensive experience in custom acne treatment plans for patients of all ages at Rapaport Dermatology

Acne treatments vary based on the type of acne you have. If you suffer from breakouts, here’s what you should know about the three common types of acne and their treatments.

Comedonal acne

As the name implies, the hallmark of comedonal acne is the development of comedones, skin bumps that include both whiteheads and blackheads. 

Whiteheads and blackheads typically form when pores are clogged with dead skin and oils. Whiteheads are closed comedones, while blackheads are open comedones. 

Many people squeeze blackheads or whiteheads to try to eliminate them, but you shouldn’t. Not only can this cause the infection to spread, but it can also leave you with visible scars. 

Instead, treat this type of acne by paying close attention to your skin care products and makeup, always selecting products that are labeled “noncomedogenic,” which means they won’t cause comedones to form.

We can also address comedonal acne with professional treatments, including acne facials. We can recommend prescription topical products aimed at helping your pores stay clean and unclogged.

Inflammatory acne: Papules and pustules

Blackheads and whiteheads are common, but when most people think of acne, they think of papules and pustules — better known as pimples or zits. The primary difference: Papules are hard, solid bumps, while pustules are bumps that have a pus-filled center area. 

The bacteria in both papules and pustules can cause inflamed lesions under your skin.

You may treat pimples with some over-the-counter products that contain benzoyl peroxide, an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory medicine. But most people with inflammatory acne need professional treatment to relieve symptoms and help prevent future breakouts. 

Treatment often includes antibiotics used alone or with topical retinoids, vitamin A-based products. For women, birth control pills or other hormone treatments may help by reducing oil production. 

Inflammatory lesions are often deep, so if you pop one, there’s a good chance it will leave a scar. Make an appointment instead.

Nodulocystic acne

This is the most severe type of acne, the kind that almost always leaves scars. Nodulocystic acne causes hard nodules under the skin, along with pus-filled cysts. 

Both nodules and cysts can extend deeper into your skin than other types of acne, and in addition to the cosmetic effects, these lesions can be quite painful.

Over-the-counter products rarely work on nodulocystic acne. Because the lesions are deeply rooted, you likely need prescription medicines — topicals often combined with oral medications — to reduce the lesions and limit scarring. 

Ideally, you should seek treatment as early as possible for this type of acne, since delaying care significantly increases the risk of developing permanent scars. Ongoing medical care ensures your treatment plan evolves as your skin’s needs change, so you can continue to reduce future breakouts and the problems they cause.

Custom treatment for your acne

Acne isn’t a cosmetic problem: Your skin is an organ, and acne is a disease that attacks that organ, so never ignore acne. We need to treat it medically, using a custom approach that’s based on each patient’s acne symptoms, skin type, and other factors. 

Dr. Rapaport uses a variety of treatments to help patients enjoy clearer, healthier skin, including:

Regular checkups ensure treatment is always focused on each patient’s needs and adjusted as needed to remain effective.

If you have acne, we’re ready to help. To learn more, book an appointment with Dr. Rapaport by calling us at Rapaport Dermatology today.

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