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The not-so-welcome guest that goes by the name “acne” usually arrives in winter. The drier the month, the more prevalent the blemishes. If you have maintained a rosy complexion for quite some time, you will notice a few white or black bumps on your skin in this chilly weather.

Now, before you start pointing fingers at that last chocolate bar or stress-induced binge-watching session, let’s clear up a few misconceptions. While diet and stress can play a role, acne isn’t solely caused by your late-night snacks or a hectic lifestyle. It’s a complex interplay of factors involving genetics, hormones, and, of course, our dear friend, bacteria.

Acne is a skin condition affecting people of all ages. It occurs when hair follicles get clogged with dead skin cells and oil, causing the formation of whiteheads, pimples, and blackheads. While it appears mostly during adolescence due to hormonal changes, acne can persist into adulthood and may have various causes.

This guide will take you through the types of acne, their causes, and treatment options:

Types of Acne

Inflammatory Acne

Inflammatory acne is often recognized by the presence of red and swollen lesions, and it can range from mild to severe. Understanding the types of inflammatory acne is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment. Here are some of the main types:


  • Description: Papules are small, red bumps on the skin that are typically less than 5 millimeters in diameter.
  • Characteristics: They are often tender to the touch and may feel firm. Papules result from the inflammation and swelling of the hair follicles.


  • Description: Pustules are similar to papules but have a white or yellow center, which is pus.
  • Characteristics: The presence of pus gives them a distinct appearance. Pustules are often referred to as “pimples” and may be surrounded by red, inflamed skin.


  • Description: Cysts are large, pus-filled lesions that are typically softer than nodules.
  • Characteristics: Cysts are the most severe form of inflammatory acne and can cause significant pain and discomfort. They may also leave deep scars upon healing.


  • Description: Nodules are larger, solid, and often painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin.
  • Characteristics: They result from a buildup of multiple, inflamed, and connected hair follicles. Nodules can be deep-seated and may lead to scarring.

Acne Conglobata

  • Description: Acne conglobata is a severe and rare form of acne that often occurs in males.
  • Characteristics: It is characterized by interconnected nodules and abscesses, leading to widespread inflammation. This form of acne can cause severe scarring and may persist for an extended period.

Gram-Negative Folliculitis

  • Description: This type of acne is caused by a bacterial infection.
  • Characteristics: Gram-negative folliculitis is characterized by pustules and cysts. It is often a complication of long-term antibiotic treatment for acne.

Acne Fulminans

  • Description: Acne fulminans is an abrupt and severe form of acne that is accompanied by systemic symptoms.
  • Characteristics: Symptoms may include fever, joint pain, and a high white blood cell count. It often occurs in young males and can leave extensive scars.

Noninflammatory Acne

Noninflammatory acne, also known as non-comedonal acne, is a common skin condition that also occurs when hair follicles are clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Unlike inflammatory acne, which is characterized by redness, swelling, and the presence of pus-filled lesions, noninflammatory acne tends to be milder and lacks these inflammatory features.

Here are some types of noninflammatory acne:

Whiteheads (Closed Comedones)

  • Whiteheads are small, flesh-colored bumps that form when a hair follicle is completely blocked by oil and dead skin cells. The top of the bump remains closed, preventing exposure to air and oxidation. As a result, the content inside the follicle remains white or flesh-toned.
  • Whiteheads do not cause redness or swelling.

Blackheads (Open Comedones)

  • Blackheads are similar to whiteheads, but the key difference lies in the opening of the hair follicle. In blackheads, the follicle opening is wider, allowing air to come into contact with the trapped oil and dead skin cells. This exposure to air causes oxidation, turning the material inside the follicle black.
  • Blackheads commonly appear on the face, especially the nose and forehead.

Causes of Acne

Bacterial Growth: Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) is a type of bacteria that is present on the skin. It multiplies quickly in clogged pores. Its overgrowth triggers an inflammatory response from the body.

Excess Sebum Production: Sebum, an oily substance produced by the skin’s sebaceous glands, plays an essential role in maintaining skin health. However, excessive production of it can clog pores and cause acne lesions to form.

Clogged Hair Follicles: The accumulation of excess oil and dead skin cells in hair follicles form a plug, creating an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria.

Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, can cause inflammatory acne.

Cosmetic Products: Certain cosmetics, moisturizers, and hair products contain ingredients that contribute to pore blockage. Using products that are non-comedogenic (designed not to clog pores) may help prevent noninflammatory acne.

Genetic Predisposition: If your parents or close family members have a history of severe acne, you are more likely to develop inflammatory acne.

Acne Treatment Options

Topical Treatments

Prescription or OTC gels and creams containing ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or retinoids can help reduce inflammation and prevent further breakouts.

Oral Medications

Oral contraceptives (for females), antibiotics, and oral retinoids like isotretinoin may be prescribed for more severe cases. These medications work to reduce inflammation and control bacteria.

Lifestyle Changes

Adopting a skincare routine, including gentle cleansing and avoiding harsh products, can contribute to managing inflammatory acne. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition and stress management can have positive effects on skin health.

Non-Comedogenic Products

Choose skincare and cosmetic products labeled as non-comedogenic to reduce the risk of pore blockage. These products are formulated to be less likely to cause acne.

Combination Therapy

Often, a combination of different treatments is the most effective approach. Dermatologists tailor treatment plans based on a person’s specific acne type, severity, and response to previous interventions.

Procedural Interventions

Dermatological procedures such as laser therapy, chemical peels, and drainage of cysts may be recommended for severe cases or to address scarring.

Final Word

In conclusion, the best way to tackle acne is to understand its root causes. Each person’s skin is unique, and what works for one may not work for another.

While genetics and hormonal fluctuations play significant roles, other factors such as diet, stress, skincare products, and environmental factors also influence acne development and severity. Recognizing these triggers allows people to make informed lifestyle choices and seek appropriate medical interventions.

The Suncoast Skin Solutions team comprises experienced dermatologists who stay abreast of the latest advancements in skincare technology. We pride ourselves on using state-of-the-art equipment and proven methodologies to deliver unparalleled results. Schedule a consultation with us today. During this session, we will assess your skin, discuss your concerns, and formulate a tailored treatment plan. Call 1-844-SUNDERM.

SunCoast Skin Solutions Dermatology offices are located in Tampa / Hillsborough, St. Pete / Pinellas County, Brandon, Lutz, Winter Haven, Largo, Hudson, Leesburg, Jupiter, Lecanto, Riverview, Brooksville, Clearwater, Ocala, Palm Harbor, Daytona Beach, Sarasota, Punta Gorda, Seminole, Jacksonville, (Inverness, Port Charlette, Port Saint Lucie coming soon), Florida. Contact us at 1-844-786-3376 or click here.