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The Different Types Of Acne, Plus Everything You Can Do To Treat Them

They may look alike, but they aren't the same!
PHOTO: Getty Images

If you grew up dealing with oily and acne-prone skin, you have probably tried a lot of blemish-busting products in the hopes of banishing your complexion woes forever. If your skin is still breaking out, you may need to step back and reevaluate your routine. Despite pimples looking mostly similar, acne actually has several types, with each one requiring a certain treatment. This is why it’s best to consult with a licensed dermatologist so they can correctly diagnose your skin’s condition and prescribe you with the proper medication.

That said, we decided to consult Dr. Ron Michael Dagala, M.D. DPDS and Dr. Elaine Aban, M.D. DPDS, both in-house dermatologists at Skin House Beauty and Laser Clinic, to answer all our questions about the different types of acne and how to heal them. Keep on scrolling to know more:

What are the different types of acne? What causes each type to occur?

Acne vulgaris, or pimples, are a condition that specifically affects the hair-oil gland unit of the skin. It is caused by an overproduction of oil which causes our pores to get clogged and inflamed, alongside an innate bacterial organism in our skin.

Acne usually manifests as red papules and pustules on the face, chest, and back where there are many oil glands. It can also appear in different forms: 

(Ed's note: Acne types may look alike and the only way to verify is to be seen by a board-certified dermatologist so that you can get a more personalized and effective treatment plan.)

  1. Comedonal acne

    This is the acne that is predominated by whiteheads and blackheads that are caused by excessive oil production. These usually progress to become the pimple we commonly see.

  2. Nodulocystic acne

    This is a more severe form of acne that is bigger and has more painful nodule which leaves a scar. This is still caused by excessive sebum production but with more inflammation.

  3. Hormonal acne

    Hormonal acne is what women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) usually have. They often produce too much testosterone in the body which leads to increased sebum production.

  4. Fungal acne

    Fungal acne is what some call Pityrosporum Folliculitis, which happens when there is over-proliferation of the yeast pityrosporum in the hair follicle. This, in turn, results in the inflammation and rupture of the hair follicle. So if we go by the definition of acne, fungal acne does not exist. Treatment of pityrosporum folliculitis is also different than your regular acne.

How do you recommend treating acne?

According to Dr. Dagala , blemish-busting products aren’t “one-size-fits-all,” as some acne types may even require further workup and clearance before the actual treatment. This is why he recommends consulting with a board-certified dermatologist. Treatments range from topical to oral medications, and only a doctor can assess what you truly need. So if your acne has been bothering you for some time and your regular go-to products aren’t cutting it anymore, it’s time to book an appointment with your derma ASAP.

He also stresses the importance of committing to your skincare routine. Your complex 10-step regimen works fine, but he notes that there are three steps that should not go missing from you’re a.m. and p.m. routine.

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  1. Cleanse

    Wash your face with a mild cleanser two times a day—in the a.m. and p.m. Use a gentle formula that matches the pH level or acidity of the skin. Doing so lessens the risk of irritation which can lead to acne.

  2. Moisturize

    Moisturizing is an important step even for those with oily skin! Not only will it hydrate your skin, but it will also form a protective barrier against irritants, allergens, and infections which then helps prevent acne. If you have a greasy complexion, you may opt to use gel-type moisturizers to minimize the sticky feeling. Apply this at least twice a day.

  3. Sun protection

    Leaving your skin exposed to the sun will not only make acne marks darker, but it can also trigger more pimples to emerge because your oil glands become hyperactive. According to Dr. Dagala, you still need to apply your sunscreen even if you’re just staying indoors all day. Sunlight can still enter your home through the windows, so it’s better to still continue with your application. Make sure that your sun protection factor or SPF is at 30 to 50 for maximum protection!

Can retinol help treat acne?

If your skincare routine includes a retinoid (such as retinol acid) for its anti-aging benefits, then you may continue incorporating it in your regimen as it is beneficial in dealing with acne as well. Be very careful, though, as retinoids may cause skin irritation when used in large doses. Apply a thin layer once every night or every other night.


What skincare habits should we follow to prevent acne?

Dr. Dagala and Dr. Aban recommend that you incorporate these practices in your everyday routine to score flawless skin:

  1. Have makeup-free days.

    Give your skin time to breathe from all the cosmetics. While you're at it, make sure to clean your makeup brushes and sponges once a week.

  2. Assess your current skincare rotation.

    Every few months, you must assess your skincare products to see if they are still working for you. We may not know it, but sometimes, we continue using certain items without knowing that they’re the cause of our breakouts. If it makes your complexion feel overly sensitive, red, painful, and itchy, it’s time to change it.

    It takes a lot of trial and error to find the perfect product for you. If you need professional help, there are tons of dermatologists and clinics such as Skin House Beauty and Laser Clinic that offer online consultations during the quarantine. They can recommend products and treatments that will fit your skin type and budget.

  3. Limit your intake of foods with a high glycemic index.

    Food with a high glycemic index may trigger acne. Simply put, these are sweets, sugars, dairy, and carbs. Some of you may find it hard to limit, especially with all the quarantine snacks you have stocked at home and that's fine. But, the goal is to limit intake, not to totally eliminate so as to not deprive yourself. But if you have the willpower to avoid them altogether, by all means, do so. 

  4. Avoid popping your pimples.

    Boredom may lead you to start popping your pimples. Avoid this bad habit at all costs no matter what as this may worsen your acne, and may even increase the formation of scars.

  5. Change your sheets regularly.

    Since you spend about eight hours rolling around your sheets and pillow, they absorb a lot of the dirt and oil from your complexion. Make sure to change them weekly to avoid spreading the bacteria back to your face.

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