Breakdown Your Breakouts: Understanding Different Types of Acne


| LAST UPDATE 04/20/2023

By Alyssa Williams
acne breakout skincare treatment
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Acne is a common skin problem that can be challenging to manage. While we may refer to all breakouts as "pimples," there are many different types of acne, and treating them requires different approaches. Vanessa Lee, a renowned Medical Aesthetic Provider and the founder of The Things We Do, reveals the best ways to identify each kind of acne and what products to use for effective treatment.

First, there's Rosacea Acne, which presents as pink to red and slightly inflamed bumps on the cheeks and nose. This variant is usually genetically passed down, but specific steps can be taken to reduce flare-ups and improve the appearance of the skin. For Rosacea Acne, calming, inflammation-reducing products containing colloidal oats, niacinamide, and zinc oxide can repair and protect the skin. Perioral Dermatitis is another type of acne that appears as tiny, pinpoint, raised bumps accompanied by redness and sensitivity. This condition is often caused by an allergic reaction to a product on the skin, infected hair follicles, constant lip licking, or long-term use of corticosteroids. To manage Perioral Dermatitis, wash the face with warm water without cleanser, and slowly introduce azelaic acid with anti-inflammatory properties.

cystic acne skin types
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Milia appears as small white bumps caused by trapped oil that hardens under the skin. To treat milia at home, use AHAs or a retinol to thin the skin's trapped layer. Blackheads appear as black-tipped bumps resulting from an overproduction of oil without regular exfoliation. AHA or BHA products, microdermabrasion, or using an antimicrobial scrubber can help in physical exfoliation. Fungal acne appears as small itchy clusters on the forehead caused by overactive yeast. Antifungal shampoos work best on this type of acne.

Finally, cystic acne presents as large, red, deep, and achy pustules with yellow "bellies" in the center. Genetic predisposition, hormonal imbalances, stress, medications, smoking, and overproduction of oil in skin can cause this variant. The best approach is to combine internal and external remedies. Internally, the response to stressors and hormone levels in the body should be considered. Externally, alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids can normalize oil production and increase cell turnover to clear the skin. Sunscreen should always be used with this type of skin because of its sensitivity to sun. Remember, each acne type requires a unique treatment plan, and by identifying the cause and type of your acne, you can find the right products to treat your skin. Medical consultation is vital before using any new acne treatment. Knowing one's skin type and cause of acne can guide in selecting the proper acne treatment regimen.

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