Acne originates from the Greek work “akme” which means a point or a spot. Acne is a very common skin condition affecting a mix of population including teens and adults. Though it is not lethal, having acne can lower one’s self esteem. It is generated when the sebaceous glands (oil producing glands) situated at the very end of the hair follicles are seen to be overactive. In very simple words, skin cells along with oil and hair clump up together. This clump gets infected with bacteria resulting in a swelling.
There are two categories of acne:
1.) Non-Inflammatory Acne
Non-Inflammatory acne generally does not cause any swelling. This category includes comedones. A comedo is a hair follicle (skin pore) which is clogged. Sebum combined with skin debris leads to blockage of these hair follicles. A comedo could be:
Blackheads are comedones in which the pores remain open and stretched hence they are also called open comedone. These open pores that have been clogged with excess oil and melanin build-up gets exposed to air and results in discoloration, hence the name “blackhead”. It could also be generated due to the presence of dead skin cells which gets accumulated along with the oil – based cosmetic products used on the surface of the skin.
Whiteheads are small lumps that appear on the surface of the skin. The pores in this case, are still clogged by debris and oil, but the surface of the pores remain closed and hence the name -closed comedone. They are similar to blackhead, the only difference is that in this case the clogged pores remain closed and is not exposed to air.
Inflammatory acne, as the name suggests, are inflamed, painful and swollen. Sebaceous gland secretion along with dead skin cells are also the reasons for inflammatory acne as well, but what makes it inflamed is the presence of bacteria that leads to an infection deep within the skin layers.
- Papules and Pustules
In some cases, the pores get so badly clogged and infected by bacteria that they lead to the formation of papules or pustules. Papules are pink in color and are harder as compared to pustules. They do not contain any pus in them. Pustules are similar to papules except that they are yellowish in color due to the presence of pus.
These are blocked pores that continue to clog up such that they form hard and painful bumps that develop deep within the layers of the skin. These could linger for weeks, sometimes months and must be treated by a doctor.
So what type of acne do you have? Now that you have a fair idea of the most common types of acne, have a closer look when you get one next time and try to figure out its category. Wash your face twice a day and exfoliate your face with a mild scrub at least twice a week and do not overdo it. If you see that your condition is not improving, make sure you get some medical advice. Do not try to extract or pop your pimple!