Acne or acne vulgaris causes skin lesions (damaged tissue) known to many as spots. A common misconception believed by many, is that all acne is the same, however this is far from the case. There are six main types of spot caused by acne with each type categorised according to the severity of the condition. The six main types of acne are:
Blackheads are small bumps that develop on the skin and are black or yellowish in colour. They are formed when a pore is partially blocked. The trapped bacteria oil and dead skin slowly drains to the surface of the skin to form the blackhead. Despite many believing that their black colouring is caused by dirt, it is actually caused by melanin in the skin reacting with oxygen in the air, causing it to oxidise, harden and turn black.
Whiteheads develop similarly to blackheads, although generally they are firmer and have a white centre. Whiteheads result when a pore is completely blocked, trapping sebum (oil), bacteria, and dead skin cells causing a tiny white spot to appear on the surface. Unlike blackheads, the accumulation of bacteria or sebum is not due to blockage but rather to a closed or narrow pore making it difficult for sebum, bacteria and tiny dead cells to drain to the surface of the skin.
Papules are inflamed and tender red bumps that have no head. This type of acne is commonly referred to as a pimple. Papules occur when the follicular wall breaks, resulting in white blood cells to irritate bacteria, leading to inflammation. Papules should in no circumstances be squeezed as this will not get rid of pimple but could instead potentially lead to scarring.
Pustules similar to papules are inflamed red circle with a white or yellow centre. They are essentially the later stage of papules. During the inflammation process, the body’s immune system will try to fight off and the repair the damage caused by the papules acne. This results in white blood cells to pile up and create pus in the pore. It is usually advised against squeezing a pustule as touching the acne could potentially cause bacteria to spread.
Acne nodules are hard bumps that build underneath the skin. They develop from the progression of papules or pustule, when these milder forms of inflamed acne lesions rupture deep beneath the skins surface and subsequently release pus in the dermis. Contamination will effectively occur resulting in the acne lesions to harden. Nodules are painful and scarring is common. No attempt should be made to squeeze such a lesion as you can cause severe trauma to the skin.
Cysts are large pus filled lumps that are similar and look similar to boils. Cysts are acne lesions in their most severe form. They are a result of untreated nodules that have advanced in growth and development. They can be caused when the pus inside nodules acne ruptures deep within the skin and releases the pus, causing the bacteria within the pus to effectively leak into the skin. During the inflammation process your body’s immune system will try to combat the bacterial infection resulting in pus formation, at the same time cystic acne will start to expand into the surrounding skin tissue.