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The 6 Different Types of Acne and How to Treat Them

Acne is the result of a blockage or infection of the pilosebaceous unit (composed of a hair follicle, arrector pili muscle, and sebaceous gland).

In simple words, acne happens when the hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, creating an anaerobic environment (which means there is not any oxygen within the pilosebaceous unit) so the C. Acne occurs and proliferates.

The skin responds to this infection by creating inflammation in the form of red, sore, swollen pimples, pustules or pumps.

Men with Acne on cheeks

The 6 different types of acne:


  1. Papules
    Papules do not contain pus - they are small, red bumps that form when hair follicles become inflamed. They are often tender to the touch and can be a sign of more severe acne.

  2. Pustules
    These are similar to papules but they do contain pus. They are Epidermal lesions, which are inflammatory, and they are often red, swollen and can be painful to the touch.

  3. Nodules
    These are large, inflammatory, and dermal lesions - painful bumps that form deep under the skin. They are often a sign of severe acne and can take longer to heal.

  4. Cysts
    These are similar to nodules but filled with pus. They are an inflammatory raptured follicle wall in the dermal lesion. Often very painful and can leave scars.

  5. Blackheads
    These are small, black bumps that form when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells at the mouth of the follicle. They are Epidermal lesions and are not inflammatory. The black colour of the blackhead comes from the fact it been oxidised - the colour is caused by the buildup of melanin, a pigment that gives colour to the skin and hair.

  6. Whiteheads or Milia
    These are small, white bumps that form when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. They are deeper in the follicle causing gluggy sebum. The lesions are dermal and inflammatory.




How to Treat Acne

1 - Improve the quality of sebum (oil)


Sebum should be of watery consistency, but in acne sufferers, you will find the sebum has more of a thick consistency. This leads to blockages of the pilosebaceous unit (hair follicle) and lesion formation.


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Essential fatty acids EFA in the diet can improve the quality of sebum, changing it from a thick gluggy texture that blocks the follicle to a free-flowing liquid that moisturises and protects. This enables us to correct the acne internally.

Looking after your gut health, in general, is a great step to tackle acne. There is a huge link between severe skin conditions and inflammatory skin conditions and gut health.


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Skin Clear Biome™ is specifically formulated for stressed and problem skin, containing four beneficial bacteria and yeast strains that work in synergy to balance and clear the skin from deep within.

Starting with a probiotic is the best way to balance gut health and skin health.

Skin Clear Biome™’s bacteria blend helps maintain a healthy gut flora. Over 70% of cells making up the immune system are based in the gut and nourishing the internal microbiome can support this.


2. Target the blockage of hair follicles with Salycilic Acid


Retention Keratosis is the term we use to describe the blockages of the hair follicle where skin cells layer over each other leaving no opening for oxygen to get into the pilosebaceous unit. Dirt, grime, and products are then also blocked and that's the beginning of the acne forming process.

Salicylic acid is an oil-loving acid that regulates and absorbs excessive sebum that can enter the hair follicle, where it is attracted to the sebaceous gland and offers a very deep clean, high regard in its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.


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Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash
is a soft foaming cleanser that helps clear skin and reduce visible skin ageing.

Salicylic Acid, a Beta Hydroxy Acid, stimulates natural exfoliation to help clear clogged follicles and smooth away dullness that contributes to visible skin ageing. This cleanser will be suitable for adults that are experiencing breakouts but are still concerned with skin ageing.


3 - Balance the skin's Ph with the use of Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)


If you are not cleansing your skin efficiently or if you don't have the correct PH-balanced cleanser, then you are possibly allowing the C-acne to thrive on the skin.

Effective cleansing is essential to ensure the daily removal of sweat, excess sebum, and dirt.

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) works on acne by regulating sebum production, correcting the skin PH level to its acid balance, while removing any opportunity for C. acne bacteria to proliferate. Vitamin B3 can also treat the pigment that commonly appear after breakouts, which is called Post-Inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PHIP).


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Alpha-H Vitamin B Serum combines the benefits of Niacinamide and powerful actives to hydrate, protect and revive the skin, shielding from damaging aggressors.


4 - Vitamin A to help stimulate cell turnover


Vitamin A
helps to treat acne by rebalancing the stratum corneum, speeding up healing by stimulating stem cells, and preventing and treating scarring by stimulating the fibroblast, and cell turnover to help natural desquamation.


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This next-generation, rare form of Vitamin A acts up to 11 times faster than classic retinol at providing remarkable anti-ageing, radiance-boosting and skin-smoothing benefits to the skin.

5 - Remove all comedogenic ingredients from your skincare and/or makeup

Removing all comedogenic ingredients from your skincare and makeup will allow your follicles to breathe and remain clear.

These can come from the skincare that you are using and/or your makeup.

Investing in a more personalised, cosmeceuticals brand of skincare can help these three issues that cause a breakout.



Besides all the tips shared above, it is also paramount to consult with a skin professional to determine the best course of treatment for your specific case of acne. One size does not fit all, everyone's acne is treated differently.

Book a Complimentary Skin Consultation and talk to one of our Skin Experts to have a personalised skin program designed for you.



About The Author:



I am Sari, a qualified Skin Therapist here at Skinmart. I have been in the skincare industry for over 15 years. I have a holistic approach to skin and my passion lies in ‘Health’. My philosophy is if we are healthy on the inside, then it shows our vitality on the outside.
I have furthered my knowledge with courses in Skin Anatomy, Advanced Skin Concerns, Advanced Skin Needling and Fitness.
My emphasis is on guiding my clients through their journey of skin concerns and conditions. I like to educate my clients and find the potential triggers for their skin concerns or condition so that together we can eliminate the root of the cause. I aim to give personalised consultations with treatment and correct prescribed skin products.


Reference: Skin Education International

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