Types of Acne
There are several different types of acne, which are categorized according to the severity of the condition. In order to understand acne types and the stages of their development, let’s take a look at how acne forms to begin with:
Acne is an acute inflammatory condition of the pores and skin. In the initial stages of its development this specific disorder mainly affects the pores and hair follicles of the skin. It develops as a result of either a blockage to the pores or because of the overproduction of glandular oils, generally known as sebum. In a healthy skin (A), sebum tends to always drain to the surface. However, when for any reason the sebaceous glands either become clogged or become smaller in diameter, the bacteria Propionobacterium Acnes, which is naturally present within the oil glands begin to rapidly multiply beneath the skin’s surface. This is how initially the mildest non-inflammatory types of acne begin to form. The problem is not caused by the actual presence of Propionobacterium Acnes, but rather by its multiplication and retention.
The Different Types of Acne
Blackheads are open, non-inflammatory acne. Blackheads are also often referred to as grade I. or open comedonal acne. When a pore becomes partially clogged by dead skin cells, this will obstruct the normal drainage of sebum, therefore it accumulates beneath the epidermis. When this partially draining sebum gradually gets exposed to air, it oxidizes, hardens and turns black.
Whiteheads are another non-inflammatory, grade I. type of acne, which are are also referred to as closed comedonal acne. They develop very similarly to blackheads, however in the case of whiteheads, the accumulation of bacteria and sebum is not due to blockages, but to a closed or narrow pore, which makes it impossible for sebum, bacteria and tiny dead skin cell particles to drain to the surface of the skin. Milia forms exactly the same way as whiteheads, however bacteria and sebum are not involved in its development.
Papules and pustules are grade II. inflammatory types of acne. This is the type of acne, which is commonly known as a pimple. They develop when a closed comedonal acne or whitehead becomes so swollen with the mixture of bacteria and oil that it ruptures superficially, releasing its contents into the dermis, close to the epidermis. Because there is a bacterial contamination through the broken glandular wall, it initiates an inflammatory process where white blood cells will try to repair the damage, which leads to the formation of pus. When finally the pus makes its way to the surface of the epidermis, it is known as a pustule, which people often refer to as a zit.
Nodular acne and acne cysts are the most severe types of acne. According to their severity acne nodules are classified as grade III. and cysts as grade IV. types of acne. The development of nodules or cysts are most likely to cause long term damage to the dermis and the chance of developing acne scars is incredibly high. While a papule develops due to the superficial rupture of an acne comedone, nodular or cystic acne forms when a deep rupture of either a comedonal acne, a papule or a pustule occurs. Deeper ruptures leaking infected material into the dermis will lead to more damaging lesions.
Read more about the different types of acne and the treatment of the different acne types:
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