What are the different types of Acne? – A list

Verified by Doctors
Updated On - August 25, 2020 Dr Jisha Gomez
Read Time : 4 Mins

In the medical field when they name something as “common” like the common cold, they aren’t joking around about it. So when they call it “common acne”, it is because it’s a skin condition that occurs on the regular for anyone and this holds no regard for age or gender.

Acne goes by the medical term acne vulgaris, and it is usually typified by pimples that show up on the face, back and chest (1). A pimple is defined as a skin abnormality that occurs when oil-producing glands called sebaceous glands in the skin get clogged up, leading to an infection (2). From this point onward, the way the infection exhibits itself determines the type of acne that it is.

Acne, in general, is broadly categorized into two categories, based on whether they are inflammatory or non-inflammatory. But before looking at the different types that fall under these categories, let’s take a look at the possible causes of acne.

There are a number of reasons why acne shows up on our skin, and most of the time, it isn’t even due to our own faults. Hormonal changes are the primary reason for pimples, especially for those doing through puberty in their teenage years.

Here the excessive hormones coursing through the system trigger the sebaceous glands, making them produce extra oils. This, in turn, increases the chances of them getting clogged and infected because of bacteria, resulting in widespread and recurring acne.

Partly responsible for acne is dietary preference. Although junk food and processed sugar is blacklisted by most medical experts, there haven’t been definitive studies proving that they lead to acne. However, certain hormones present in dairy products have been known to trigger hormonal changes that lead to acne (3).

Also, watching what we apply to our skin is important because cosmetics are a major reason for acne at times. Greasy or oil-based makeup tends to mean trouble for the skin because it has chances of clogging up pores. However, this is an issue only if the makeup is left on for too long and not removes frequently.

Additionally, even ingrown hair and build-up of dead skin cells on the surface can lead to forms of acne (4).


These are types of acne that are caused when the infection of the clogged follicles occurs, and this leads to visible swelling. These are often more painful than their non-inflammatory counterpart. One further unfortunate fact of this type of acne is that they are tougher to heal and have chances of leaving permanent marks on the skin. These types include:

Papules: these are the initial stages of any inflammatory form of acne. They appear small and rise as red solid pimples (5). They haven’t yet developed into visible pores but are generally surrounded by swollen tissue.

Pustules: these are the following stage past papules (6). By this stage, they become white or yellow in color, with pus inside. Pustules are distinguished from papules because they consist of white blood cells.

This is our body’s natural reaction to the bacteria build up, where it sends excess white blood cells to counteract them. This is the reason for pus.

Nodules: as the severity of acne increases, nodules tend to start making an appearance under the skin. What was previously a tender region starts to morph into hard and stiff bumps beneath the skin (7).

The unease that presents is more severe than normal pustules because this has rooted itself deeper. This may even lead to actual tissue damage in the skin and sets off alarms in the immune system. This explains why the inflammatory response occurs.

Cysts: if your skin condition has advanced to this stage of inflammatory acne, then it becomes much tougher to heal, even with treatment. This is one of the advanced forms of acne, where it is a constant source of pain and is a hardened red lump that is swollen in appearance (8). Its difference from nodules is that nodules contain pus while cysts don’t. Teenage hormonal changes are its main cause.

Nonetheless, a matter of comfort is those general statistics based on acne shows that the occurrence of cysts is far lesser than normal acne. But in case it does appear, it is mandatory that you visit a dermatologist immediately to address it.


This form of acne is far less serious and wounding for the person. They mainly include the normal blackheads and whiteheads we come across on our skin, mainly around the nose and forehead region. If you experience these, then there is a reason for relief, because it is usually easily treatable with normal pharmaceutical medicine such as over-the-counter products for acne.

Blackheads: are also known as open comedones and are formed when a pore gets clogged, mostly with dead skin cells and dirt that accumulates on the skin.

It is termed as open because the top of the pore, which is exposed, remains open despite the clogging. This sometimes leads to its pigmentation, resulting in the characteristic blackened color of blackheads.

Whiteheads: are closed comedones, which are blanketed by a thin layer of skin. Underneath the skin, sebum and dead skin cells collect together to form a plug-like lump, which keeps the impurities from leaving the pores. These aren’t as definite as blackheads and have a shorter lifespan.

These are just the main classified types of acne that often appear. The best way to deal with acne is always to visit a professional rather than opting for natural solutions or home remedies. This gives lasting results and a healthier outcome.



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Dr Jisha Gomez

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