Have you ever noticed that the pimples that pop up on your face all look different? Whether they’re dark blackheads, white comedones or large, red lesions, different types of acne can wreak havoc on your face, and each spot needs to be treated differently.
Savor Beauty sat down with Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, to define the different breakout types and how we can prevent them.
“People with acne make more oil than others, which becomes trapped within the pores because of cells that stick together, narrowing the opening,” says Zeichner.
“This leads to an overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria and subsequently, inflammation.” Depending on the size of the opening of the follicle, the depth of the blockage, and the amount of inflammation, you can end up with either a blackhead, a whitehead, an inflammatory papule, pustule or even a cyst.
Acne is generally divided into two types of lesions: comedones and inflammatory lesions:
- Comedones (whiteheads or blackheads) are essentially blocked pores that either has a wide or a narrow opening to the surface of the skin.
- Whiteheads are those with a narrow opening where you cannot see the opening of the pore or any of its contents.
- Blackheads are those with a wide opening, allowing you to see oxidized oil inside.
Inflammatory lesions include papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts. “Adult women with acne tend to develop inflammatory lesions rather than comedones,” explains Zeichner. “The acne usually occurs along the lower 1/3 of the face and jawline.”
Zeichner admits that we do not understand why this happens, but it's likely linked to hormonal sensitivity of the oil glands in this part of the face.
- Papules are red, angry bumps.
- Pustules are bumps that contain high amounts of pus.
- Cysts are deep balloons filled with oil that do not have a connection to the surface of the skin.
For patients suffering from mainly comedones, Zeichner recommends a topical retinoid or salicylic acid. You can find retinol in our Carrot Rose Serum ($74) and 2% salicylic acid in our Yuzu Lemonade Peel ($80).
If you’re dealing with red, angry inflammatory lesions, Zeichner recommends a benzoyl peroxide. If you’re looking for a more natural option, try out our Tea Tree Toning Mist ($34) to help reduce oil production and inflamed skin.