Not all acne is created equal. This makes perfect sense because there are so many factors – d. H. Hygiene, hormones and genetics – that can lead to outbreaks and make them worse. But knowledge is power, and just knowing that there are different types and that each type requires its own plan of attack takes you ahead of the clear skin curve. Once you’ve figured out what you’re working with, treatment becomes a lot easier. From there, you can determine which types of ingredients and products work most efficiently to eliminate breakouts and prevent new pimples from appearing (and tempting you to burst them). According to the board-certified dermatologist, this is the ultimate guide to identifying and then eliminating any type of acne. Find out how to identify and deal with the different types of acne, including blackheads, whiteheads, blind pimples and cystic pimples – because not all supposed acne control formulas effectively fight all types of acne.
Now let’s clear a few things about different types of acne so you can get to work to clear your skin.
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What you see: A sudden splash of pimples around your chin and jaw.
What’s up? Do you tend to get them at the same time each month – say, just before you get your period? Because this is the work of fluctuating hormones, says Joshua Draftsman, certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Hormones can spike oil production, and an excess of it means it is more likely to settle in your pores and cause pimples.
How to deal with it: Combine two of the most popular acne control ingredients, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, in the week before your period. The combination can help prevent hormonal acne from occurring at all. Draftsman suggests performing a salicylic acid wash like Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser ($ 8) with a benzoyl peroxide spot treatment like Glossier Zit Stick ($ 14). If you still see pimples, “visit your dermatologist to discuss prescription options like birth control pills, oral spironolactone – which blocks oil – or topical Aczone 7.5 percent gel,” says Draftsman. “It has been shown to be particularly effective in adult women without causing irritation.” Oral contraceptives balance these hormonal fluctuations and keep your oil production normal and your skin clear.
What you see: A typical zit with a white dot in the middle.
What’s up? This is due to your clogged pores. “Skin cells stick together in your pores and block the opening,” explains Draftsman. The white you see above – hence “Whitehead” – is the clogged pore. The oil trapped underneath mixes with dirt and bacteria and causes inflammation and the red, swollen bump that ultimately forms pimples.
How to deal with it: consider salicylic acid as your secret weapon. “This beta-hydroxy acid helps remove excess oil and remove dead cells from the surface of the skin to keep the pores clear,” says Draftsman. Try Cliniques Acne Solution Clearing Gel ($ 27), a two-time Best of Beauty winner that contains both salicylic acid and sea lash extract – an ingredient with soothing properties – to help counteract the dryness sometimes caused by salicylic acid. The formula has a double effect: it acts as a spot treatment for mild to moderate acne and as an all-over night treatment to prevent pimples. And since it dries clear, you can wear it to fight pimples anytime, anywhere.
What you see: spots of small, red pimples that do not worsen.
What’s up? Meet papules. No, it’s not things that would grow on the Hogwarts grounds (though they sound like that). This is a type of inflammatory acne and they are the work of bacteria. “The growth of bacteria p. Acne on the skin promotes inflammation, which makes acne bumps red and tender,” says Draftsman.
How to deal with it: Your best choice is benzoyl peroxide. “Benzoyl peroxide can kill acne-causing bacteria and reduce inflammation,” says Draftsman. Try a cream like the $ 30 dual-action acne treatment La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo that also exfoliates with lipohydroxy acid. However, keep in mind that the skin can dry out too much, so you can keep it hydrated after use.
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Hormonal acne < br>
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Inflammatory acne: papules
What you see: Red, angry looking pimples filled with white or yellow liquid.
What’s up? These may be vaguely similar to Whiteheads, but they actually belong to the inflammatory acne family, says Draftsman. Pustules filled with – you guessed it – pus are the result of bacterial inflammation.
How to deal with it: Think of them as bigger, angry whiteheads. The best thing to do, according to the artist, is to stock up on benzoyl peroxide, which kills the bacteria. A spot treatment like Kate Somerville’s Anti-Bac Acne Clearing Lotion ($ 42) should do the trick. Also try not to burst them – as tempting as that may be. Since they’re inflamed, they’re more prone to scarring if you go the DIY route.
What you see: Huge, angry pimples – and usually there are several.
What’s up? If it’s big, red, and painful, you’re probably suffering from cystic acne, one of the more severe types. “Cystic pimples are caused by genetics and hormonal stimulation of the oil glands,” says Draftsman. Not They are only large, but notoriously difficult to treat. They often occur in the same place because even if you manage to get rid of one, it can fill up with oil again and again, like an immortal pimple.
How To Use It: If you’ve tried the usual anti-acne ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide (which, as we should warn you, rarely work with this type of acne), you should consider to pay your dermatologist a visit. “In addition to the topical formulas, you may need a cortisone injection or an oral drug like an antibiotic,” says Draftsman. He is also a fan of a prescription topical drug called Epiduo Forte Gel, as it has been shown to be effective in fighting severe acne without the help of oral treatments.
What you see: Dark, tiny spots clog your pores.
What’s up? You may be all too familiar with these, which usually make their debut when you are in high school. “Blackheads are like Whitehead’s clogged pores,” says Draftsman. But what gives them their namesake color is the oil. It’s already dark, but blackheads also have a larger opening on the surface than whiteheads, which means that air can penetrate the oil in the pore and oxidize it, making it even darker.
How to deal with it: Peeling is a step that you simply cannot skip if you have blackheads. Draftsman recommends combining a garment packed with salicylic acid with pore strips. Bioré Deep Cleansing Pore Strips ($ 8) have proven their worth.
What you see: Just a subtle – but incredibly painful – bump under your skin.
What’s up? You don’t really see them, you feel them – which is why they are called blind pimples. “A blind pimple is like a balloon under the skin with no connection to the surface of the skin, so it can’t go anywhere,” explains Draftsman. The pressure only builds up under the skin, which makes it sensitive to touch.
How to deal with it: Speaking of touching, not! If you select it, squeeze it or poke around, the situation will only worsen. These can disappear on their own after a few days. Otherwise, Draftsman suggests to see your dermatologist for a shot of cortisone that reduces inflammation and reduces it in just 24 to 48 hours. But if a last minute appointment isn’t planned, play a crazy scientist. First freeze the surface and then apply salicylic acid gel, benzoyl peroxide gel and one percent hydrocortisone cream. The combination soothes the skin, kills bacteria and pulls excess oil out of the pimples – all that is needed to break it down, says Draftsman. With the permission of the brand,