Zits, pimples, pustules, blemishes: whatever you call them, acne has very real consequences. Millions of people suffer from this condition, which usually occurs when the pores are clogged with dirt, oil and dead skin cells. This causes inflammation beneath the surface of the skin, leading to the formation of blemishes. An occasional pimple is easy to manage, but widespread acne causes embarrassment and may lead to permanent scarring of the skin.
Acne vulgaris is the most common type of acne. This is the type of acne that causes pimples, blackheads and whiteheads to form on the face, limbs, chest, back, and buttocks. Pimples form when clogged pores become infected with bacteria, causing redness and inflammation. Pimples can be classified as either papules or pustules. Papules are pimples that burst under the skin. This causes bacteria to spread to the surrounding tissue. Papules that form deep under the skin are known as pustules.
Blackheads and whiteheads have the same basic cause, but one minor difference is what causes these blemishes to differ in color. Whiteheads and blackheads both form when the pores are clogged with dirt and oil. However, whiteheads have very tiny openings to the skin’s surface. Air cannot come into contact with the dirt and oil. Blackheads have larger openings to the skin’s surface. When air comes into contact with the materials clogging the pores, the dirt and oil turn black from oxidation.
Nodular and Cystic Acne
Nodular acne is a severe form of acne vulgaris characterized by large bumps under the surface of the skin. These nodules are often large and quite painful. They can cause severe scarring, especially if a person picks at the nodules. Cystic acne is similar to nodular acne, except the nodules are filled with pus. Pain and scarring are also common with this type of acne. Dermatologists can lessen the pain of nodules and cysts with cortisone injections.
The four types of severe acne are acne conglobata, acne fulminans, gram-negative folliculitis and pyoderma faciale. Acne conglobata is a severe form of acne vulgaris that causes large lesions and widespread blackheads to form. This condition causes scarring and disfigurement on the chest, face, buttocks, back, upper arms and thighs. Scientists do not know what causes this form of acne, making it difficult to treat properly. Acne fulminans usually affects young white men. This condition causes the signs of acne conglobata in addition to fever and joint pains. Oral steroids and Accutane are usually prescribed to treat the condition.
Gram-negative folliculitis is a bacterial infection that causes cysts and pustules to form on the skin. Researchers do not have a lot of information about this condition, but they believe it might occur in response to the long-term use of antibiotics to treat acne vulgaris. Pyoderma faciale, also called rosacea fulminans, only affects women. It causes large pustules, nodules and sores to form on the face. It typically does not last for more than a year, but it can cause a great deal of damage in a short amount of time.