Types of Acne

This section provides some technical information about types of acne and it should be very useful for anyone wanting to learn more about acne. You could also visit the dermatological website www.dermnet.org.nz for more information.

The technical term for a pimple is "comedone".

A "closed comedone" is one in which the contents of the pore have not escaped from the skin and are attacked by a bacteria. The bacteria is called Propionibacterium acnes, these bacteria are normally found on the skin. The result of the bacteria attacking the pore is inflammation.

A blackhead is a pimple that is open to the air. The pore opening has expanded, or dilated, to allow the plug of sebum and skin cells to move to the top of the pore. The exposure to the air causes a component of the contents of the pimple, called melanin, to turn dark. A pustule, or whitehead, forms when the pore opening remains closed and bacteria accumulates, this is a closed comedone.

Cystic acne is the most severe type of acne. It occurs when material from the pimple escapes from the pore under the skin. Swelling and pain occur as the body's defence systems send bacteria-fighting white cells to the area in response. Cystic acne can result in scarring. A doctor’s care is required to treat this type of acne. A dermatologist will treat the acne in order to reduce inflammation and to try to reduce the possibility of scarring.

Cystic acne can occur on its own, sometimes it can be the result of "picking" at existing pimples. The pressure of squeezing a pimple can cause the contents of the pimple to escape from the pore under the skin, resulting in a cyst.