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How to Identify Different Types of Acne for Treatment

 different types of acne

Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. It can affect just about anyone, regardless of your age, race or sex. Depending on their severity, pimples can cause embarrassment, emotional distress, and permanent scarring. You can reduce the risk of these problems by treating your acne as early as possible. Below we will discuss how to identify different types of acne and how to treat them naturally.

Different Types of Acne


Different types of acne

Acne most often appears on the face, but it can form on the neck, shoulder, back, and chest. There are several different types of acne:

  • Whiteheads: pores are plugged and closed
    • Treatment: Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic Acid, Azelaic acid
    • Home Remedies: Zinc Supplement
  • Blackheads: pores are plugged and open
    • Treatment: Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic Acid, Azelaic acid
    • Home Remedies: Zinc Supplement
  • Papules: small read bumps that can be tender
  • Pimples: papules with pus at their head
    • Treatment: Retinol and Benzyol Peroxide
    • Home Remedies: Dermatrope Acne Patch
  • Nodules: large, painful swellings beneath the skin’s surface
  • Cystic lesions: pus-filled swelling under the skin’s surface
    • Treatment: Retinol and Benzyol Peroxide
    • Home Remedies: Zinc, Dermatrope Supplement, & Acne Patch

All Types of Acne benefit from dietary modification. Check out DrFormulas Guide on how to help reduce acne with diet.

What Causes Acne?

The most common causes of acne are: 

  • Proximate Causes:
    • Sebum - Excessive production of oil
    • Clogged Hair Follicles - Hair follicles which become clogged and inflamed with dead skin cells (keratinocytes) and sebum
    • Hormones - Excessive hormone activity, particularly androgens
    • Bacteria - Bacterial overgrowth (Cutibacterium acnes formerly known as Propionibacterium acnes)
  • Ultimate (root) Cause:
    • Poor diet

For most people, the onset of acne commences during adolescence. This is largely because, during puberty, the high levels of hormones can lead to excessive production of sebum. There are many hair follicles on the skin, and the sebaceous glands (where sebum is produced) are located close to the surface of the skin and open onto the hair follicles. As sebum is produced, it enters the hair follicle. The role of sebum is to lubricate the skin and hair. Overproduction of sebum can block the pores and attract dirt and bacteria. Many acne treatments focus on the proximate causes of acne. However, there appears to be one underlying cause: diet.

Several studies illustrate just how much diet contributes to acne. The first study is of the Canadian Inuits who had survived on a diet of high protein and fats with very little carbohydrates. For a long time these people lived a nomadic lifestyle, hunted for all of their food, and did not develop acne. Once they started settling down and eating processed and refined carbohydrates, acne became a problem. Another study entitled “Acne vulgaris: a disease of Western civilization” looked at two different groups of people and found that the prevalence of acne in 2 nonwesternized populations was nonexistent, even amongst acne-prone adolescents of the Kitavan Islanders of Papua New Guinea and the Aché hunter-gatherers of Paraguay. Even though the Kitavan islanders got 70% of their calories from carbohydrates, it came mostly from low glycemic index sources like tubers, fruits, and vegetables.

Low glycemic index foods are carbohydrate rich foods that do not rapidly elevate blood sugar. Processed carbohydrates tend to elevate blood sugar more quickly because they are processed and already broken down. For example, it is harder for the body to digest and absorb whole grains than it is to digest and absorb processed white bread. It is easier for the body to absorb the sugars in apple juice than it is to get the same amount of sugar from whole apples.

When your body absorbs carbohydrates, it gets broken down into glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream. Cells in your pancreas sense the elevation in blood sugar and release insulin. As carbohydrate intake increases the body has to release more insulin to compensate. Increased insulin levels in the body have a multitude of effects that influence acne including:

  • Decreasing Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)[1]
    • This increases the levels free testosterone
  • Increasing Free (unbound) Testosterone by decreasing SHBG[2]
    • Androgens like testosterone stimulate increased sebum production which contributes to acne[3]
  • Increasing Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1)[4]
    • IGF-1 Increases the expression of inflammatory markers and sebum production[5]
    • People that have Laron syndrome do not produce IGF-1 and do not have acne

In addition to diet, inflammation plays a central role in the pathogenesis of acne. Recent research has shown that inflammation has a two-fold role in the acne process. The one that most acne sufferers are familiar with occurs in the secondary stage of acne, with the appearance of red, swollen pimples. The pain that acne causes is due to localized inflammation, which is the immune system’s healthy response to bacteria growing in the skin’s pores[6]. In this case, inflammation is activated by the immune system to combat infection. The immune system’s response is to send white blood cells to the site of the infection, and this causes inflammation.

Acne Medication List

dermatrope retinol

Current medical guidelines treat acne’s proximate causes using the following strategies[7]:

  • Abnormal follicular cell growth and desquamation (exfoliation) is treated with the following agents:
    • Retinoids that modify cellular growth[8]
      • First generation: retinol, retinal, tretinoin (retinoic acid), isotretinoin, and alitretinoin
      • Second generation: etretinate and its metabolite acitretin
      • Third generation: adapalene, bexarotene, and tazarotene
    • Azelaic acid: This is a good antibacterial treatment for pimples because it penetrates the skin’s pores and kills acne-causing
    • Salicyclic acid which increases cell turnover and promotes exfoliation
    • Hormonal therapies like oral contraceptive pills and spironolactone
  • Increased sebum production is treated using the following agents:
    • Isotretinoin (Accutane) which has strict prescribing protocols due to the risk of birth defects in pregnant females (Prescription Acne Medication)
    • Hormonal therapies (Prescription Acne Medication)
  • acnes infection is treated with
    • Benzoyl peroxide which is an over-the-counter agent
    • Antibiotics (Prescription Acne Medication)
    • Azelaic acid
  • Inflammation is treated with
    • Retinoids
    • Mild antibiotics of the tetracycline class (Prescription Acne Medication)
    • Azelaic acid

Depending on your acne type and severity, your doctor may treat your acne with any number or combination of therapies.

Dietary Treatments:

Check out DrFormulas Guide on how to help reduce acne with diet.

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