The Different Kinds Of Pimples And What They Mean!

Unfortunately, there's many different kinds of pimples...

 

Acne, spots, zits, pimples, blemishes, break outs… whatever you choose to call them, they aren’t pleasant for anyone doing battle with them! If this is you, just know, you are not alone. 

17 million Americans are reported to have issues with acne, making it the most common skin condition in the country. About 95% of people between the ages of 11 and 30 are affected by acne to some extent too!

Acne isn’t always just found on the face either. It can also develop on the chest and back instead of or as well as the face.

Generally, acne is considered to be caused by hormonal imbalances typically associated with puberty, but for many who are now post teen age, acne is something that’s come along for the ride into adulthood!

Pimples also come in various types and forms, and identifying which variation you’re attempting to discourage is the key to prevention and treatment.

So, what are the different kinds of pimples and what’s the fix for each type?

Blackheads

To understand black heads and whiteheads we need to know what comedones are. Comedones are the skin-coloured, small bumps frequently found on the forehead and chin.

Blackheads are when your pore/hair follicles block with skin cell buildup, oil and bacteria - lovely! However, blackheads are also known as open comedones, which means the oil has become oxidised (exposed to oxygen) and therefore gained it’s black coloring.

The Fix: Thorough cleansing and exfoliation is key for black heads. You can also look to clay masks for added support twice a week, and pore strips for a more intense cleanse but only if used in moderation.

Whiteheads

Oilier skin types tend to see whiteheads the most, and these occur when sebum and skin cell buildup clump and get stuck in the pore/hair follicle at the top of the skin. These are also known as closed comedones, because the top of the pore is closed which makes it different from a blackhead.

The Fix: Regular chemical exfoliation, just like blackhead treatment, can really help clear up whiteheads. The use of salicylic acid has also been touted a good whitehead warrior.

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid which is known for its antibacterial properties and its ability to exfoliate and unblock pores.

Pustules

The ickiest word, for the ickiest spots! This is when a spot has developed a head on it that’s white or yellow and kinda looks like a bubble.

It differs from a whitehead because pustules are typically inflamed, red in colour apart from their head, and full of muck. Whiteheads don’t typically get the inflammation and soreness like pustules.

The Fix: You gotta pop these! It goes against all the rules, but that pus has got to come somewhere and even a pro dermatologist would give the go ahead here.

Prep is key though! Wash your hands first. Then, wet a washcloth with hot water and hold it on the pustule. The heat will draw the muck even closer to the surface. Pop it, and then cover it with a pimple patch or small plaster to protect it from getting infected for at least a few hours.

Papules

In acne terms, papules are typically on the smaller side but nevertheless a swollen, red, inflamed bump. Papules differ from a pustule because they don’t have a head.

The Fix: Look for targeted spot treatments that include benzoyl peroxide which is renowned for killing bacteria. If your skin is super sensitive or you have rosacea, products containing benzoyl peroxide may not be for you, so be mindful of this if you want to try it.

Drying lotions or creams applied topically to the spot can also help too.

Nodules

One of the most severe forms of acne, nodules are hard bumps that develop deep under the skin and feel very painful. These don’t always become red, but stay rooted for sometimes weeks on end remaining the same color as your skin.

The Fix: Nodules usually need medical intervention and support, so book an appointment with your dermatologist today.

Cysts

Again another severe form of acne, cysts develop deep in the skin and occur when a pore has become blocked and infected. These are normally large white or red lumps, and often incredibly painful to touch. This form of acne can lead to severe scarring.

The Fix: Keep the area clean and exfoliated. Try ice packing the area to help reduce the inflammation. If you get cysts regularly, or they are causing you immense discomfort and bringing you down, seek medical support from a dermatologist. They can offer you cortisone injections, the acne fighting drug retin-A and sometimes they might suggest surgical removal of a cyst in extreme cases.

How To Prevent The Different Kinds Of Pimples

There are some preventative measures you can take to help stop the spots:

  • Avoid using too many cosmetics and clogging make-up. If you do have to use it, look for brands that are water based and labelled non-comedogenic, as these will be less likely to clog your pores and lead to unwanted spots.
  • Always properly remove your make up before going to bed! 
  • Avoid “cleaning out” or popping your spots (unless it’s a pustule!). This will just lead to infection and scarring.
  • Try not to over wash the area (so, no more than twice a day), as this can actually make zits worse. Use mild cleansers and lukewarm water to avoid irritation.
  • Acne and dry skin?! Be sure to use a water based, fragrance free, sensitive emollient instead of thick, goopy moisturisers to prevent clogging pores with product build up.
  • Exercising? That’s great! Be sure to shower straight away afterward though as sweat can fire up acne.
  • Sleep on a silk! Silk is a natural fiber and less porous, thus less likely to clog up your pores because it doesn’t absorb dirt like cotton does. A silk pillowcase will lessen the friction between your skin and your pillow, reducing the risk of irritating existing blemishes and developing new breakouts.
  • Wash your hair regularly with a paraben-free, sulfate-free, gentle cleansing shampoo. Dirt and oil from your hair can end up on your face, particularly when you’re asleep or exercising. Tie your hair back whilst you’re in bed or working out, but use silk hair ties as elastic bands can break and damage your hair… and nobody’s got time for that!

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Sarah Milton

A passionate content writer, with a specific interest in the science behind hair care. Having created content for several years, I’ve grown my knowledge exponentially in the science behind hair growth, quality and texture, and what ingredients our tresses need to thrive. When not in the office, I’m walking my dog along the beach or invested in a brilliant television drama.