Types of Acne Explained:

Inflammatory and Non-Inflammatory Acne

When a dermatologist assess an acne condition they categorize the acne by whether there are inflammatory factors present or not. Inflammatory factors basically mean how inflamed the skin eruptions are. Acne conditions are classified as either non-inflammatory or inflammatory conditions. Following are an explanations of both and a great video that explains the types of acne and how pimples form.


1. Non-inflammatory Acne

Non-inflammatory acne is the most common form of pimples and acne that people experience, and it presents as blackheads and white heads. With either blackheads or whiteheads, the pore becomes blocked with oil allowing bacteria to thrive. A closed pore results in a whitehead, an open pore in a blackhead.





A comedo is a widened hair follicle which is filled with skin debris (called keratin squamae), bacteria and oil (called sebum). When this trapped oil and bacteria remain below the surface of the skin it forms a whitehead. A whitehead is defined as a closed comedo.






Blackheads form when the pore opens to the surface of the skin and the oil (sebum) oxidizes and turns a dark color due to melanin being present. It’s usually believed to be dirt but isn’t. A blackhead is defined as an open comedo, with a darkened area or plug of skin debris covering the opening.



2. Inflammatory Acne

A blackhead or whitehead can release its contents to the surface and heal, but if doesn’t the follicle wall ruptures and an inflammatory acne condition results. This rupturing usually happens from squeezing or touching the skin, but can happen on it’s own accord. Below are the following types of pimples that can result after the follicle wall ruptures.

Inflammatory acne is a form of acne that is less common. The types of pimples experienced can eventuate to cysts and nodules that cause increased tenderness and pain, and also an increased affect on a persons appearance. These two inflammatory acne conditions cause deep scarring and as a result an increased affect on self-image and self-esteem.


A papule and papules.

A papule

A papule is created when there’s a break in the skins follicle wall. The immune system kicks into gear sending white blood cells in to repair the tissue the and the pore becomes inflamed as a part of the healing process. There is inflammation, but papules do not contain pus.



A pustule and pustules.

A pustule

A Pustule is the next stage after a papule and forms several days later when the white blood cells make their way to the surface of the skin. This is what we usually call a zit or obvious pimple. Unlike papules, pustules are pimples that do contain pus. They can form over large areas of the body and create very serious acne conditions.



Acne cysts

Acne cysts

Sometimes a severe inflammatory reaction can result in very large pus filled lesion which is called a cyst. When the bacteria multiplies and the immune system kicks in, the affected skin can become red and swollen. Cysts are often numerous covering large areas of the skin.



A nodule and nodules.

Acne nodules

When the skin follicle breaks and completely collapses, a large, inflamed bump called a nodule can result. Nodules are usually very sore and sensitive to the the touch.


We have now discussed the two types of acne according to whether there is inflammation present or not, and have given you examples of each condition. This will help to give you a better understanding of acne and what can form within the skin. Please note that more than one type of pimple type and condition can exist within the same area at the same time.

Here’s a great video that explains the types of acne and how pimples form.


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