“Understanding different types of Acne”


There are many definitions related to acne that contain various terms that are generally unknown and not understood by the general public. There are also various ways of defining differing types of acne, which is why we have decided to provide a list of termsUnderstanding each types of acne that you will see being mentioned on our website.

We want to be sure that you are able to completely understand the information we are providing for you, without leaving you guessing about any of the meanings.



Pustule: A pustule is considered a small, inflamed elevation on the skin that is filled with pus, and that is normally composed of a combination of white blood cells, dead skin cells, as well as bacteria. If a pustule forms over a sebaceous follicle, it will usually contain a hair in the middle. Acne pustules that are able to heal before going on to become a cyst will generally not leave any scars.


Papule: A papule has been defined as a small, (at least 5 millimeters or less), solid, and usually inflamed bulge on the skin that does not have any pus inside. It is possible to find groups of very small papules and micro-comedones that are not actually visible, but can be felt by touch. A papule is caused by a cellular reaction during the progress of the disease.


Lesion: A lesion is defined as a localized, pathological change in a bodily organ or tissue. Lesions can be external, (as in acne, skin cancer, psoriatic plaque or a knife cut), or internal, (such as lung cancer, arteriosclerosis in a blood vessel, or cirrhosis of the liver).

Therefore, when referring to acne lesions, we understand that there is a change in the skin which is caused by the disease. Some types of lesions include comedones (whiteheads or blackheads), nodules and cysts.


Comedo (plural comedones): A “comedo” is a sebaceous follicle that has become clogged by sebum, dead cells from inside the follicle, tiny hairs or even bacteria. If a comedo is open at the top, it will generally be considered a “blackhead” since the upper layer has a black hue.

A closed comedo on the other hand, is usually referred to as a “whitehead” since it appears to be skin-color, and possibly slightly inflamed with a white center. The “whitehead” will have a different color because of the opening of the follicle on the skin’s surface being closed or narrow. You need to remember to hold back from popping or squeezing either of these at any time.

Only a dermatologist can perform a process like this under sterile conditions. It is entirely possible to injure tissue by picking at them, which can lead to other infections due to staphylococci, streptococci, and other bacteria.


Nodule: A nodule is a large, deeply seated, pus-filled and often painful lump, which is considered to be the most severe form of acne lesions. Those who are affected by nodules will most often be scarred for life. Treatment by a physician is generally required.


Macule: A macule is the simplest dermatological lesion which is left from a healed acne lesion, and is usually red or reddish-pink with a well-defined border. A macule can last for days or even weeks before completely disappearing. Sometimes, if several macules are found together at the same time, it can lead to the appearance of having an inflamed face.


Cyst: A cyst is defined as a closed sac or capsule that is filled with a fluid or semi-solid material – normally white blood cells, dead cells and bacteria. When oil ducts become clogged and infected, leading to a localized infection, it results in what is called cystic acne.

Recommended treatment involves avoiding irritants on the face, such as many cleansers and makeup, and in more severe cases, steroids, antibiotics or other medications may be required. The only really effective treatment for cystic acne involves systemic therapy with isotretinoin. Severe cases of cystic acne will cause permanent scarring.


As mentioned, there are many varying types of acne, and it is important to understand exactly what each means if you are wanting to find an effective treatment for your own acne.

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