Just like skincare formulas, not all acne is created equal. Sometimes breakouts can show up right before your periods and at other times, it takes a zit several weeks to appear on the surface of your skin. There are tons of factors that come into play– hygiene, hormones, the environment, the products you use, and even genetics. This is why it is always helpful to reach out to a dermatologist to discuss what could be affecting your skin.
There are many different types of breakouts and each requires its own precise modus operandi to tackle it. But, understanding the type can go a long way in ensuring that you treat it correctly that is if it bothers you. We’ve put together a complete guide to identifying and taking care of different kinds of acne so you can understand everything there is to know about breakouts.
What is acne?
Basically, when the natural oils of your skin mix with the bacteria and dead skin, they end up clogging your pores causing breakouts. There are two main categories of acne: Inflammatory and non-inflammatory.
Types of acne
This type of acne is caused by an excess of bacteria that lives on the skin and increases inflammation. Think redness and angry-looking breakouts.
What you’ll see: Soft to touch, red and swollen bumps with no white or yellow fluid in them. These are caused by dead skin cells clogging pores.
How to handle it: Reach out for benzoyl peroxide spot treatments or cleansing formulas that kill acne-causing bacteria. However, remember that this ingredient can be incredibly drying on the skin so following up with a moisturiser is a must. Try PanOxyl’s Foaming Acne Wash but keep in mind that to wipe your face dry with a white washcloth as the peroxide in the formula can bleach fabrics.
What you’ll see: Inflamed and red, one to five millimetres raised pimples with visible whiteheads
How to handle it: Think of these are bigger whiteheads that have gotten infected. Try using benzoyl peroxide spot treatments like the Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Gel as it zapping acne-causing bacteria instantly. Other than that, avoid touching or popping the pimple as that makes it more likely to scar.
What you’ll see: Larger red bumps that are firm and painful to touch
How to handle it: This type of acne is more severe and is usually completely under the skin, making it more difficult to treat. Oral medication may be required so it is best to consult a dermatologist, instead of going the DIY way.
What you’ll see: Multiple large red pimples that are under the skin and occur in the same place over and over again
How to handle it: Begin by icing the cyst. This can help to bring down the swelling and inflammation and then, line up the usual acne fighters like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide in your routine. If this doesn’t work, consult your dermatologist because this kind of acne is notorious to treat and may need to be drained with the help of an injection.
If you have comedonal or non-inflammatory acne, you will not notice any angry red pimples. Instead, you will be dealing with pesky blackheads and whiteheads in the areas where your face tends to get oilier- nose, forehead, around your cheeks, and chin.
What you’ll see: These closed comedones are the type of acne where you’ll find tiny white bumps on your skin. This is because your dead skin cells and sebum are trapped under a thin layer of skin and over time, the dirt and grime can cause infection, leading to redness and breakouts.
How to handle it: When it comes to dealing with whiteheads, salicylic acid is your best bet. It zaps the skin of excess oil and dead skin and keeps your skin clear. Try Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Spot Treatment that packs 1.5 per cent of salicylic acid and ginger root extract–a skin soother and extra oil absorber. Feel free to use this gel one to three times a day.
What you’ll see: Blackheads are open comedones where the dirt, oil, and dead skin cells are exposed to the air. The oxygen in the air oxidises the substances and they look like tiny black dots on the surface of the skin.
How to handle it: While pore strips are your best bet to unclog your pores and can be used once or twice a month, they can sometimes damage sensitive skin. In that case, try using a salicylic acid leave-on formula like Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant to dissolve the dirt in your pores.
For breakouts and acne related skin problems, we recommend you to consult a dermatologist.