What are the different types of Acne? – A list

acne conglobata

The medical field often uses the term “common”, like the common cold. They do this for a particular reason. They aren’t joking around about it. Similarly, when they call it “common acne”, it is because it’s a skin condition that occurs regularly for everyone, and this holds no regard for age or gender! Today we talk about the different types of acne.

How is acne identified?

Acne goes by the medical term acne vulgaris, and it is usually identified by pimples that show up on the face, back and chest. 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. From this point onward, the way the infection exhibits itself determines the type of acne that it is.

What are the different types of acne, and what causes them?

Acne is usually divided 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.

Causes of acne

There are several 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 going through puberty in their teens. 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.
  • Dietary preferences can play a role in the occurrence of acne. Although most medical experts blacklist junk food and processed sugar, 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.
  • Watching what we apply to our skin is vital because cosmetics are a significant reason for acne at times. Greasy or oil-based makeup can be trouble for the skin because it has chances of clogging your pores. However, this is an issue only if the makeup is left on for too long and is not removed properly.
  • Additionally, even ingrown hair and a build-up of dead skin cells on the surface can lead to forms of acne.

Different Types of Acne

Inflammatory Acne

Inflammatory acne is caused when a clogged follicle gets infected. 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:


This is the initial stage of any inflammatory form of acne. Papules appear small and rise as solid red pimples. They usually are not developed into visible pores yet but are generally surrounded by swollen tissue.


This is the stage that follows papules. By this stage, the pimples become white or yellow in colour, 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. Therefore, creating pus.


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.

The uneasiness that accompanies nodules is more severe than normal pustules because it is rooted deeper. This may even lead to actual tissue damage in the skin and set off alarms in the immune system. Thus, explaining why the inflammatory response occurs.


If your skin condition has advanced to this stage of inflammatory acne, then it is 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. Its difference from nodules is that nodules contain pus while cysts don’t. Teenage hormonal changes are its primary cause.

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

Non-Inflammatory Acne

This form of acne is far less severe for a 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 standard pharmaceutical medicine such as over-the-counter products for acne.


These 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.

The term ‘open’ is given to it 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 colour 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.

The silver lining

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.


1. How do I know what type of acne I have?

You can identify this by observing the appearance and characteristics of your acne and comparing it to the information given above. Still, the best way to diagnose your acne is to consult your dermatologists.

2. Can I get acne from stress?

Yes, you can get acne from high-stress levels.

3. Does a lack of sleep cause acne?

A lack of sleep can trigger acne to flare up.

4. How can I get clear skin?

A good daily skincare routine that suits your skin type can bring you closer to clear and healthy skin. 

Struggling with a Skin or Hair issue? Download the CureSkin App now by clicking here to get the best treatment. It’s easy, fast and affordable!



Dr Jisha Gomez

Dr Jisha Gomez

She is a highly skilled dermatology physician with strong expertise in improving skin & hair health through the development of corrective treatment combinations. She completed her Post-graduate Diploma in Dermatology from Cardiff, UK & Fellowship in Aesthetic Medicine (FAM) from the Institute of Laser and Aesthetic Medicine, Delhi with over 5+ years experience treating skin patients. She has worked in Government hospitals in Trivandrum and Bangalore. She is actively involved in creating awareness for healthy skin, breaking the social stigma based on skin colour & stopping steroid abuse in our country.