When you have acne, you might actually be dealing with a variety of acne formations.  Blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts are all different types of acne.  Different acne formations not only have unique causes, but they require specific types of treatment.  In most cases, a person suffering with acne will end up with combined acne: a condition involving the appearance of more than one form of acne.  It is therefore important for you to identify what kind of acne you suffer from before you seek out treatment options that can target the specific kinds of acne that you have.

Where and Why Acne Appears
Acne is common on the T-zone of the face including the forehead, nose, and chin, but it can also appear on the cheeks and neck too.  The different types of acne are not limited to only appearing on your face; some people have acne outbreaks on the body as well.  Outbreaks can appear on the torso, arms, legs, chest, back, and other areas of the body.  Individuals with existing skin conditions, like excessively oily or dry skin, are more prone to acne eruptions.  With dry skin conditions, dead skin cells can be excessive and can cause pores to become clogged.

With oily skin conditions, the body produces too much oil and the pores can become partially blocked or completely clogged with the oil that is produced.  If you happen to have oily skin conditions, you can end up with pores that are enlarged too, and this can make your skin or complexion appear unsightly or uneven.  When dealing with oily skin conditions, you must be careful; if using an acne treatment that results in dry skin conditions, acne outbreaks can persist, even if the reason for the appearance of acne has changed.

Blackheads and Whiteheads
Blackheads and whiteheads are types of acne that fall under the mild category of acne outbreaks.  Blackheads are formations that involve a skin pore that is partially clogged.  Inside a blackhead, there are dead skin cells and oil or sebum that eventually rises to the surface of your skin.  Many people falsely assume that the black coloring of a blackhead is captured debris or dirt.  Actually, the dark color of a blackhead is created from melanin, a substance that gives skin its natural color.  When melanin is exposed to oxygen in the air, the substance becomes darker.  On the other hand, white heads are acne formations that are completely obstructed.  Inside a whitehead, just like a blackhead, are excess sebum or oil, dead skin cells, and acne forming bacteria.  Since the melanin is not exposed to oxygen, when the trapped materials begin to rise to the skin’s surface, they remain white in color.

Both blackheads and whiteheads can be persistent, meaning that they can last a long time and they can be difficult to treat.  There is no instant cure for these types of acne, and in order to deal with blackhead and/or whiteheads, many acne suffers use a combined approach.  Making changes in one’s diet, using topical treatments, and treating the condition with oral medications is a way of combining the best acne treatments possible.  You can also reduce skin eruptions by cleansing the affected area at least once daily with a mild soap or cleanser.  If you are dealing with outbreaks that appear on the face, you will want to use water-based or oil free makeup to keep from clogging skin pores or causing skin irritation.

A common method of dealing with black or whitehead is found in using an over the counter product containing Benzoyl peroxide.  With repeated use, Benzoyl peroxide helps in reducing the appearance of clogged pores.  However, over use of Benzoyl peroxide can result in severely dry skin conditions.  As an alternative, sometimes a health professional can extract blackheads with a tool called a comedone extractor.  The extractor is a circular, metal tool that is placed over the blackhead formation.  The tool is used to push the skin around the formation down so that the blackhead is forced out of the skin pore.

Papules and Pustules
Papules and pustules appear on individuals with a moderate to severe case of acne.  When identifying acne formations, papules and pustules are the most common types of acne outbreak.  Papules are acne eruptions that are red, swollen, and raised.  If you have a cluster or grouping of papules on your skin, the outbreak forms an acne plaque.  Papules do not contain any pus and they are skin eruptions caused by ruptured follicles or they may appear when a whitehead is irritated and inflamed.  Papules can later become pustules.

A pustule is a small to medium sized, inflamed, and swollen bump on the skin.  Beneath the raised area of a pustule is an infected area that contains pus.  Pustules can be painless or they can be tender to the touch.  Papules and pustules can result in the formation of unsightly skin discoloration and enduring scars.  If you pick at the acne eruptions, this will increase the likelihood of scar formation, and it can potentially spread the infection to other regions of your skin.

Papules and pustules are treated the same one you would deal with black or whiteheads.  It is important to develop a daily skin-cleansing regimen, and papules will often disappear when treated with products containing Benzoyl peroxide.  If you end up with a lot of pustules on your face or body, it may be necessary for you to seek out the assistance of a dermatologist or doctor.  Sometimes a health professional can provide you with oral antibiotics or creams containing antibiotics to help you deal with your outbreak.

Cystic and Nodular Acne
Cystic and nodular formations are types of acne considered severe.  Cysts start out as nodules: hard, painful, swollen skin lesions that start deep in your skin.  A nodule can be moderately to severely painful, but the formation will not have visible pus or a head on it.  As the skin infection worsens, it can spread.  A nodule can then turn into a large lump with an abscess or infection deep inside its center; these types of acne can prove painful, but they are not always tender or sore.  Many times, the pus inside the cyst will eventually come to the surface of the skin where it becomes visible, but this is not always the case.

Cystic and nodular eruptions often require treatment from a dermatologist.  These types of acne are not usually responsive to over the counter acne treatments or herbal remedies.  Sometimes a health professional will provide you with Accutane: a prescribed acne treatment taken one time each day for a period of 16 to 20 weeks.  Accutane reduces oil production so that nodules and cystic formations eventually disappear.  Females with nodular of cystic conditions are sometimes provided with birth control pills to help balance out hormonal imbalances.  In other cases, your health professional might prescribe antibiotics like Tetracycline, Minocycline, or Doxycycline to help you deal with acne outbreaks that are not responsive to at home treatments.

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