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A Closer Look at Some of the Different Types of Acne

A Closer Look at Some of the Different Types of Acne

Acne occurs when your skin’s pores become blocked by dead skin cells, hair, bacteria, or oily sebum. Acne blemishes can be both uncomfortable and unsightly, affecting your self-esteem and causing distress. While some types of acne are more common in teenagers, you can find yourself coping with acne outbreaks at any age.

Dr. Ulin Sargeant and her team at Monrovia Internal Medicine & Primary Care of Duarte, California, can help with acne outbreaks and stubborn acne problems. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of acne and the treatment options available to you through Monrovia Internal Medicine & Primary Care.

Noninflammatory acne

Noninflammatory types of acne include blackheads and whiteheads. You don’t typically see swelling due to noninflammatory acne.

Over-the-counter treatments containing salicylic acid work well to address noninflammatory acne outbreaks. The active ingredient in products like toners and cleansers with salicylic acid exfoliates your skin, clearing away dead skin cells and resolving pimples.


Blackheads, also known as open comedones, form when sebum and dead skin cells block your pores but leave the top of the pore open. You see a darker color on the surface of the blemish.


Whiteheads, or closed comedones, are also caused due to clogs of sebum and dead skin cells. If you have a whitehead, the top of the pore closes, with an appearance like a small protruding bump.

In addition to treatment with salicylic acid, over-the-counter and prescription topical retinoids offer good results in addressing comedonal acne.

Inflammatory acne

Inflammatory acne, caused by bacteria in addition to sebum and dead skin cells, produces pimples that appear red and swollen. Bacterial infections can reach deep into the layers of your skin, making it difficult to treat inflammatory acne outbreaks.

To reduce swelling and clear away bacteria from within your skin, as well as to remove excess sebum, try products with the active ingredient benzoyl peroxide. Your provider at MIMPC can also prescribe oral or topical antibiotic medications to address bacterial infection.


If severe inflammation causes the walls around a pore to break down, you could develop a papule, which is a hard, clogged pore with surrounding pink skin that’s tender to the touch.


Similar to papules, pustules form when the walls around pores break down and are additionally filled with pus. Pustules appear red, often with a yellow or white head at the top. Avoid picking at pustules, or you risk worsened infection and future scarring.


If you have a nodule, a large, swollen clogged pore deep beneath the surface of your skin causes irritation. Nodules typically require prescription medication for successful treatment.


Cystic acne often involves severe infection and is most likely to leave scarring. Pus-filled cysts develop as a result of pores clogged deep within your skin, and they form large white or red lumps that are typically painful to the touch. You most likely need prescription medication to address cystic acne.

To learn more about the best treatments to address your acne, whether your outbreaks are acute or chronic, get in touch with Dr. Sargeant at MIMPC today. Schedule your consultation appointment by calling us at 877-254-4496, or visit our virtual office to book online.

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