Hey everyone! So I haven’t posted in a while because I’m just starting out on the Rubicon staff and I still have to get used to the schedule. Anyway, I’m going to start a little series on acne because I know that a lot of us teenagers struggle with it, and it’s not a thing that’s talked about a lot. There’s a bit of a social stigma around imperfect skin, so a lot of health websites are reluctant to talk about acne. Today I will be ignoring the taboos and I will begin this series, in which acne will be discussed in great detail.

Acne is a skin condition where hair follicles and pores are plugged up by oil and they form little bumps on the skin. Lots of people get acne on their faces, but it can really be anywhere on the body, often on the neck, back, and shoulders. Unluckily for the target audience of the Good for You blog, acne is most common among teenagers. Other factors that impact acne include hormones, genetics, and contact with greasy substances or objects that apply pressure to your skin.

Most of us teenagers experience comedonal acne, which is the common, everyday type that one can treat with simple methods. This is one of two categories of acne types, the other being inflammatory, which may be- you guessed it- more inflamed and in need of prescriptions for treatment.

There are six main types of acne- two are non-inflammatory and four are inflammatory. The two comedonal types, blackheads and whiteheads, are pretty self-explanatory. Blackheads, or open comedones, are clogged pores where the top remains open so they show up black on the skin. Whiteheads, or closed comedones, are clogged pores that close all the way and show up as white on the skin. They’re both fairly easy to treat- but we’ll get into treatment options next week.

The four inflammatory acne types are painful to have and they’re painful for me to talk about. Researching these types gave me memories of seventh grade- before I started treating my acne- and the pain that came with my early adolescent papules and pustules. I was lucky enough to (mostly) escape cystic and nodular acne, but I can still feel the achiness and burning of an inflamed face.

Papules start their lives as ordinary comedones, but they mix with a bacteria called Cutibacterium acnes during their growth. Now this is where this post will start getting gross- the oil in the clogged pore spills out and the bacteria infects the surrounding skin, causing a red, painful lesion. Pustules form in a similar way, but they contain pus where papules don’t. Pustules can end up looking like an over-inflamed whitehead.

Cystic acne and nodular acne are the two most severe types of acne. They form when the C. acnes bacteria infects the area deep below the surface of the skin, causing a painful, inflamed bump that can’t be popped. The two types are differentiated because cystic acne involves pus and nodular acne does not.

A common myth is that rosacea is a type of acne. However, rosacea is an entirely separate family of skin conditions involving popped blood vessels beneath the skin. Rosacea and acne can coexist, however, and that can be very painful.

So, after reading this post things may seem very grim on the acne front. However, there are tons of treatment methods to effectively help all the different types of acne, and the topic of next week’s post is exactly that! Thank you for reading, and until next week stay safe and remember to wash your hands- and your face!

Image by Evelyn Sampsell-Jones.