Not All Acne is the Same: How to Identify the Different Types

For anyone suffering from acne, a special occasion can be easily ruined when the big day arrives along with a breakout or a huge blemish in the middle of your forehead. So unfair, yet so common.   

Acne is the most common skin condition among children and adults. It’s estimated that more than 5 million Canadians have some form of acne, nearly 20% of the population. here are many types of acne, and many different terms are used to describe it. It’s important to be able to distinguish between the different types because each requires different treatment.

What is acne

Acne occurs when your hair follicles get clogged with dead skin cells, bacteria and oil. It can erupt in the form of blackheads, whiteheads or the most dreaded – pimples. The most common places of a breakout are the face, shoulders, chest and back. Usually, people going through puberty are more prone to acne, but it also happens to adults.

What causes a breakout

There are many reasons why you may suddenly be experiencing a breakout on your face. Acne can be caused due to excess oil production, hormonal changes, stress, reactions to medication, or the use of certain cosmetics. Acne can also be hereditary.

Noninflammatory acne


Comedones are small bumps on the skin that occur when hair follicles become clogged with an overproduction of sebum (or oil) and dead skin cells. Whiteheads and blackheads are two types of comedones


Blackheads have the appearance of small, black dots. One side of the pore is open, and the other is blocked leading people to mistakenly believe the pore is filled with dirt. The dark spot is a result of the pore’s exposure to oxygen. This exposure to oxygen is what causes these blemishes to oxidize and turn black.


Like blackheads, whiteheads are pores that are clogged with oil and skin cells. However, whiteheads appear white because they have a layer of skin covering the pore leading to white- or skin-coloured bumps.

Treating noninflammatory acne

An effective skincare routine can often help control both whiteheads and blackheads. Using pharmaceutical grade products formulated for oily skin types and targeted towards acne with ingredients such as Salicylic or Retinol will help reduce acne and prevent future breakouts. salicylic acid can also help. Facial treatments done by professionals, such as PDL laser treatments or chemical peels can help treat acne and can be performed on all acne-prone areas, including the back!

Inflammatory acne


Acne papules are red bumps on your skin caused when the follicle walls rupture and bacteria penetrate deep into your skin, resulting in inflammation. They are also commonly known as pimples.


Acne Pustules occur when the papules become infected and result in a head that is filled with pus. Pus is caused when your body tries to defend against bacteria by sending white blood cells. These are more painful and are harder to cover up.

Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is considered the most severe type of inflammatory acne. The lesions start deeper and are buried within the skin. They feel hard and are painful to the touch. Because they are filled with pus and blood, they can lead to scarring. 

Treating inflammatory acne

Though it may be tempting, squeezing a pimple is not recommended. Too often, the contents are accidentally pushed deeper into the pore, making the blemish worse. Extractions should be performed by trained professionals in order to prevent potential acne scars.

Antibiotics with anti-inflammatory properties can be effective in treating severe acne, as well as oral contraceptives. For those who don’t want to take medications or want to take immediate action, many medical aesthetic clinics offer chemical peels that are also excellent treatment options.  Your medical aesthetician can help you create an at-home skin care routine as well as an in-clinic treatment plan.

If you are suffering from acne, it’s important to remember that there are a variety of treatment options, from the right pharmaceutical grade products to laser treatments and peels. Finding a clinic that can provide the best acne facials and peels is key. Dermamode has been offering a wide arrange of medical aesthetic services, including acne treatments, for over 15 years. Contact us to speak to a specialist. 

Product Specialist suggestions for acne prone skin:

 Bioactive Retinol, Bioactive Cleanser, Bioactive Solution, Bioactive Gel.