Acne Types and How To Treat Them


Although we might think of acne as being a singular problem, in fact there are several types of acne. Here, we take a look at some of the different forms of the condition that exist and how best to treat them.

types of acne

Hormonal Acne

Hormonal acne is the most frequently-seen kind of acne seen in adult women. It is caused by imbalances in the estrogen and androgen levels in the body.

Androgens encourage oil production in the skin cells. This results in clogging of the pores, inflammation and, inevitably, acne.

Hormonal acne is aggravated by dairy products, carbohydrates and foods which spike levels of insulin in the body.

If you suffer from this type of acne, you should control your intake of foods which are known to have an aggravating effect.

Some women find that taking a birth control pill can help to balance their hormones effectively to minimize their chances of developing acne.

Inflammatory Acne

Excessive inflammation is known to deplete stores of antioxidants in the body leaving the skin at risk of inflammatory damage from air pollution and UV radiation among other sources.

Inflammatory acne can cause pitting or scarring and produces lesions or blemishes which are swollen, red and inflamed.

Some of the blemishes associated with inflammatory acne include:

  • Papules – solid, raised, pink bumps under the surface of the skin
  • Pustules – tender, large bumps that are filled with pus
  • Nodules – inflamed, painful hard lumps deep inside the skin
  • Cysts – large, painful, soft white or red lumps deep inside the skin that are pus-filled.

Pustules and papules can be treated with several over the counter medications and home remedies.

Some treatment tips include: 

  • Washing twice daily with soap and water
  • Applying warm cloths or compresses for 15 minutes
  • Using a benzoyl peroxide product to combat the bacteria
  • Using a salicylic acid product to remove debris and dead skin cells

In the case of cysts or nodules, a dermatologist or doctor will be required to prescribe a treatment. They may require one or more of the following treatments:

  • Antibiotics like amoxicillin, doxycycline or tetracycline
  • Topical corticosteroids
  • Systematic retinoids like isotretinoin
  • Steroid injections
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Chemical peels
  • Drainage and extraction of cysts

Stress Acne

People suffering from stress-related anxiety are trapped in a vicious cycle. They feel emotional and anxious because of their acne, but the acne is aggravated by that stress and anxiety.

Finding more effective ways to calm down is vital in this form of the condition.

Learning relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation could prove to be beneficial in breaking the cycle of stress-related acne.

Irritant Acne

Acne is occasionally simply a skin problem. In such cases, it is caused by comedogenic or harsh chemicals or rubbing of the skin. In such cases, eliminating contact with the irritant is key to eliminating acne.

Infectious Acne

Strictly speaking, this isn’t a true form of acne, it merely looks similar. This occurs when pathogens cause a skin infection with a very similar appearance to acne.

Malassezia Folliculitis is one such condition. If this form of the condition is experienced, a doctor can help to prescribe a treatment to clear the infection.


This is a reaction to drugs which looks like acne. Some potential causes could be halogens like fluoride, iodine and chlorine as well as corticosteroids, some chemotherapy treatments and immune system suppressants as well as vitamin B12.

Again, this form of acne can be ceasing use of the drug in question.

Non-Inflammatory Acne

Blackheads and whiteheads are both forms of non-inflammatory acne lesions. Usually, these don’t result in swelling and cause minimal pain.

Whiteheads are white or flesh-colored small bumps or spots which are surrounded with a red halo possibly with wrinkled or tight skin.

Blackheads are black, small spots which may be slightly raised. Around the blackhead will usually look normal.

Blackheads and whiteheads aren’t serious forms of acne. They can often be treated by over the counter treatments like gels, moisturizers, toners, rinses and creams, often containing several active ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol and sulfur.

Washing with soap and water twice per day, reducing stress, staying hydrated  and eating healthily may also help.

Sufferers should also avoid sun exposure and wear sunscreen if they go outdoors. Popping acne blemishes should also be avoided.

Which Type Of Acne Do I Have?

While some people can easily pinpoint the type of acne they have, many sufferers find that they have two or more forms of the condition.

Therefore, it may take a little trial and error to find the best treatment to resolve your problem.

However, if your acne is extremely severe, seeking help from a physician or dermatologist is always the best course of action to minimize any scarring and skin damage due to the blemishes.


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