Acne is a prolonged, inflammatory skin condition that causes different types of pimples on the skin. There are various types of acne that commonly occurs on the face, neck, shoulders, chest, upper arms and back. Usually, acne occurs during puberty, when the sebaceous glands trigger, but it can happen at any age. These glands create oil and are stimulated by male hormones formed by the adrenal glands in both men and women.

Here’s a detailed overview of different acne types and what actually causes them and the ways to treat them:

What are the different types of acne?

Some of the most common types of acne are as follows:

  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Papules
  • Pustules
  • Nodules
  • Cysts

The types of acne based on the severity of the condition are as follows:

  • Mild Acne
  • Moderate Acne
  • Severe Nodulocystic Acne
  • Acne Conglobata
  • Acne Mechanica


What are the causes and treatment of different types of acne?

Here are the causes and treatments of each type of acne:


When a pore stays open at the skin surface, it is called “open comedo” and also referred to as a blackhead. As the pore is open so the sebum that is inside the pore solidifies when it comes in contact with the air and when the air combines with melanin (skin pigment), the blackhead forms a dark coloring spot that looks black, brown or gray.

The most common areas of blackheads are the nose, chin, and forehead, but they can also be found on the chest, arms, and back.

Blackheads tend to spread widely at the beginning of puberty and during the times of hormonal changes.

Usually, OTC (over-the-counter) medications can be used for the treatment of blackheads. They can also be released with steaming the skin. Exfoliation and using an alpha-hydroxy moisturizer are some other ways to treat blackheads.


When a pore stays closed by a thin layer of skin, sebum and dead skin cells accumulated, causing a thick substance to remain stuck under the skin, creating a clog and this clogged pore is referred as a whitehead.

Whiteheads are commonly found on the face, but they can also occur on other areas of the body.

Many of the OTC medications that treat blackheads are also effective to treat whiteheads. Some other whiteheads treatment methods include:

  • Rinsing the face 2-4 times a day to keep it fresh and free from extra oil.
  • Applying baking soda paste on the whiteheads for a few minutes and wash face on a consistent basis.


This type of acne is the first inflammatory acne type that affects the skin. Papules are tiny, raised, solid pimples that don’t have pus in them. They appear to be red or pink in color and are surrounded by swollen and inflamed tissue. Papules may have a sensitivity to touch. Squeezing or picking a papule can make the inflammation even worse that possibly leads to scarring.

Tomato is an exceptional natural remedy to treat papules. At first, rinse the face and tap it dry by using a fresh towel. Then, apply tomato juice to the affected skin and leave it for around 30 minutes. After that, wash the face with lukewarm water.


They appear white or yellow in the center and have pus in them. When the immune system fights against the bacteria that are present in the broken follicle, it begins the accumulation of white blood cells that leads to creating pus.

The skin around the pustules appears to be red and is swollen and tender.

The most common treatment for pustules is the aloe vera. Extract the gel from a fresh aloe vera leaf or buy the gel from a store. Then, apply the gel to the affected skin at night before going to bed. Wash and clean the face in the morning.


They are large and inflamed bumps that can feel hard to the touch. They are often painful and they develop deeper in the skin.

OTC treatments are not enough to treat the nodules, but prescription drugs may be effective. The patient should consult the dermatologist for treating the nodules.


They appear as large, inflamed, pus-filled lesions on the skin. Like nodules, these cysts are painful and cause much discomfort. Cysts may occur separately or in the form of great clusters.

The patient should see a dermatologist for treating the cysts.


Here are the types of acne based on the severity of the condition:

Mild Acne:

The condition of acne is said to be mild when there are fewer than 20 blackheads or whiteheads, fewer than 15 swollen/inflamed bumps or fewer than the 30 total lesions.

The treatment for mild acne includes over-the-counter topical medications.

Moderate Acne:

The condition of acne is referred to as moderate acne when the patient has 20-100 blackheads or whiteheads, 15-50 inflamed bumps or 30-125 total lesions.

The treatment for moderate to severe acne involves prescription medication prescribed by the dermatologist.

Severe Nodulocystic Acne:

In this condition, a patient develops diverse inflamed nodules and cysts. The acne may appear deep purple or red. It frequently leaves scars.

In this condition, the immediate treatment by the dermatologist can help in minimizing the scarring. Sometimes, a doctor may need to inject corticosteroids right into the nodules and cysts so that the size can be reduced and painful inflammation can be lessened.

Acne Conglobata:

It is a severe type of acne in which patients have many inflamed nodules that are further connected to other nodules under the skin. This kind of acne usually appears on the chest, neck, arms, and buttocks. It frequently leaves scars.

Acne conglobata is more common in men and it may be caused by taking testosterone or steroids.

Prompt and appropriate treatment by a professional dermatologist is essential.

Acne Mechanica:

This type of acne is generally caused by heat, pressure, and friction against the skin and this is frequently resulted by wearing sports gear like a helmet or a baseball cap. Due to this reason, this acne type frequently occurs in athletes and thus called “sports-induced acne”.

Benzoyl peroxide treats mild acne mechanica. Purchase cleansers and moisturizers comprising benzoyl peroxide and use it daily to treat the condition.

This acne can be prevented by wearing an absorbent material under the sports equipment and taking shower right after the activity.


The different types of acne can be treated by topical therapy or systemic therapy. Topical therapy includes such acne medication that is directly applied to the affected skin such as creams or gels. Systemic therapy includes such acne medication that is taken orally like antibiotics or oral contraceptives.

If you are dealing with the signs of acne then you should consult a professional dermatologist so that you can get treatment promptly. An American board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Marie Hayag offers the most effective and customized treatment for all types of acne to the patients living in NY. You can book an online appointment by visiting the website or call 212-722-2055 for an immediate response.

Disclaimer: The material provided in the article is purely for informational and educational purposes. The content should only be used in consultation with a certified healthcare professional.