Are all acne blemishes the same? Is there a difference between blackheads and pimples? What about cystic acne?
Not only are they dissimilar, but they also usually require different treatments. At our San Diego West Dermatology clinic, our board-certified dermatologists: Dr. Stacy Tompkins, Dr. Brook Brouha & Dr. Shane Hamman are acne experts. We provide a variety of treatments, each designed to address different types of acne, and tailor-made to fit your unique skin condition. If you have acne that’s making you self-conscious, contact us today for a consultation so you can get the right treatment and get on with your life.
How Acne Starts
As your skin produces oil and sheds dead skin cells to make room for new ones, the pores of your skin can become clogged. Bacteria, which normally live on the skin, begin to spread and thrive in this area. As a result, the immune system goes to work attacking the bacteria, which results in a red, inflamed, and swollen pimple.
Different Types of Acne
A pimple is a closed, clogged pore that becomes red and inflamed. So how is it different other types of acne blemishes?
- Blackheads occur when a clogged pore of a pimple fills with excess dead skin cells, bacteria, and oil, yet but does not close, and a black spot becomes visible.
- A whitehead is a clogged pore with excess dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria on which a tiny white or flesh-colored bump develops.
- Papules occur when the bacteria, dead skin cells, and oil push deep beneath the surface of the skin, causing inflammation and swelling in the form of small, hard red bumps.
- Pustules can resemble an oversized whitehead because the bump that has formed contains pus, which appears as a yellowish-white center on top of a red, swollen blemish.
- Cysts/Nodules penetrate deep below the skin and result in more swollen pustules or papules.
What Your Acne Says about Your Health
Acne can develop anywhere on the body, and where it occurs can give hints as to the condition of your health.
- Forehead acne could signify poor digestive health, stress or, even simple skin irritation from hats and hair on the skin, which can clog pores.
- Cheek acne could be the result of air pollution, as the skin on the cheek is affected by the respiratory system. Acne here could also be due to cell phones, dirty hands, makeup brushes, clothing, and pillowcases.
- T-zone acne consisting of your forehead, nose, and chin is believed to result from food allergies or an imbalance of the GI tract
- Nose acne is thought to correspond to the heart and blood pressure problems. A diet lacking in essential fatty acids found in foods like wild-caught salmon, avocados, flaxseed and olive oil may be a reason for this type of underlying health ailment.
- Chin acne is commonly associated with a hormone imbalance.
- Acne on the back, arms, and thighs could develop due to friction from genetics and hormone fluctuations.
Acne Treatment at West Dermatology
Individual treatments will vary due to the factors contributing to your breakouts. Treatments may include: retinoids that help unclog the blocked pores of whiteheads or blackheads. While, OTC retinoids are available, we may prescribe stronger retinoids for stubborn, more serious breakouts. Additionally, benzoyl peroxide cleansers help rid your skin of the P. acne bacteria responsible for clogging those pores.
Pustules and papule treatment involves washing with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid 2-3 times. If the wash routine does not deliver results in 6-8 weeks, an upgraded treatment plan may be necessary.
For nodules and cysts, see a dermatologist ASAP, as permanent scarring can result after healing. Only a professional dermatologist can treat these effectively and the sooner you get treatment, the less chance there is of widespread scarring. Possible options for these more serious types of acne include lasers, light therapy, chemical peels, and minor surgical procedures to drain and extract.
Improve Acne and Your Skin Health at West Dermatology
At West Dermatology, we customize treatments based on your condition and individual needs. Because your healthy skin is our passion, we will address your concerns with compassion and support. Contact us today
so we can provide you with a comprehensive consultation and address your condition.