Health, Skincare

Types of Acne

Forgive your enemies, but never forget
their names.
John F. Kennedy
Knowledge is power. It is always better to name your enemies so you know who you’re fighting against. Also, it helps when trying to get help for your skin problems to be able to identify and name them properly to avoid miscommunication and confusion. Here are the types of acne blemishes and what classifies them as such.

We think that any blemish on our skin is a pimple and that anything with a white head on it is a whitehead. Thing is, acne is just so much more complicated than that. Comedones(the medical term for pimples) are typically classified into two types: Whiteheads and Blackheads. These are their official medical terms. But, for me, I like to call them something easier to remember: Closed Comedones and Open Comedones.  Because whiteheads are not always white (pustules or pimples are) and thanks for marketing most people think blackheads are those dots on the end of your nose (those are really sebaceous filaments).
If you haven’t seen my post on what acne is and what causes it, please go read it first to better understand this post.
So, for the purposes of watching and understanding my posts and videos, here are proper names and the terms I use next to them to ease confusion and to help self-diagnose. (As always, get confirmation from your doctor before doing anything serious with your health or skin)

The medical terms are in BOLD. My terms are in ITALICS.

Microcomedones: (Microcomedones) The initial plug caused by over-production of sebum or keratin. These are usually very small and do not cause a visible bump on the skin. A microcomedone is the very early stage of a comedo.

Comedo/Comedones: (Comedones) A comedo is a clogged or plugged hair follicle. These are blemishes that are not infected or inflamed. Broken down into two types, Whiteheads and Blackheads.

Whiteheads: (Closed Comedones) A blemish or bump caused by a blocked hair follicle that is not exposed to air and is not inflamed. Usually is flesh colored in appearance. When plentiful they give the appearance of rough or bumpy skin texture. Closed Comedones usually are not tender to the touch, red or have a visible white pus-filled head. For tips on how to treat closed comedones, stay tuned.


Blackheads: (Open Comedones) A blemish caused by a blocked hair follicle that is exposed to air, thus turned black due to oxidation. These are very dark in appearance, usually flat or very minutely raised. If left alone can cause the pore to dilate permanently. The comedone is exposed to air, meaning it does not have any skin or dermis covering the hair follicle. One good reason I call them Open Comedones instead of Blackheads is because most people think the Sebaceous Filaments on the nose and cheeks are Blackheads, when in fact they are harmless. Blackheads can occur in any area, even the nose, but they are completely different than SFs. When expressed the clog may feel harder than normal, or be black on top but flesh colored or white subcutaneously. For tips on how to treat open comedones, stay tuned.


Papules: (Papules) Large raised bumps with no visible source of fluid or pus. Usually are red in appearance, tender to touch and not exposed to air. For tips on how to treat papules, see this blog post.


Pimples: (Pustules) Follicle blockage blemish that is inflamed and filled with pus. The visible pus and injection may cause a white top to develop on the skin. For tips on how to treat pustules, see this blog post.


Nodules: (Cysts) Also known as cystic acne. These large, painful, inflamed and pus filled lumps are deep under the skin and difficult to treat at home. These are the most often acne associated with hormonal breakouts and can stick around for a while. For tips on how to deal with cystic acne, see this blog post.



Sebaceous Filaments: Commonly misnamed
blackheads these are not a type of Acne vulgaris, but are a naturally
occurring symptom on the skin. They are commonly found on the nose, the sides of the nose and cheeks and the chin. They appear as a dull brown or black on the surface of the skin, but when they are squeezed they express as a thin white or yellow colored strand of sebum and keratin. Sebaceous Filaments are a collection of sebum around a hair strand. If they are expressed, they will return within a few days and squeezing them is not recommended as it can irritate the skin and even cause broken capillaries which are extremely unsightly and permanent without medical treatment. For more information about SFs, see this blog post.
Medical Terms in Bold

**My Terms  in italics

xoxo Miss C.

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