Identify Acne and Clear It For Good

Beauty 101: How To Identify Acne & Clear It For Good!

Before learning how to treat your acne, the first step is to identify what type of breakout you’re experiencing. Finding the right acne treatment can depend on factors such as whether your bump is superficial or deep within the skin, or whether it’s caused by hormones or oil. Figuring out these intricacies and identifying your acne can be a bit confusing, but that’s where we come in. If you don’t know where to start with tackling those pesky pimples, this guide can help.

We’re going to break down the most common forms of acne blemishes, their typical causes and their most effective treatments. After this quick read, you’ll be well-equipped to retake control of your complexion and find your way back to a more confident you...

1. What is a whitehead?
Whiteheads are a common type of acne caused by the formation of dead skin cells, oil and/or bacteria becoming trapped and clogged within a pore (or a hole in the skin containing a hair follicle). As the accumulating pus and debris bubble and expand within the trapped, closed pore, it creates the circular white head of a pimple.

Which skin type does it affect?
Nearly all skin types experience whiteheads, including dry, sensitive, normal, combination, and oily skin. They can also be caused due to hormonal flare ups during stages of puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause.

How to treat whiteheads:
Whiteheads are superficial, and can be treated and prevented rather easily. Over-the-counter (OTC) products containing salicylic acid work to penetrate the pore and break apart whiteheads, while a good toner or astringent can tighten and constrict the pores to prevent dirt from clogging pores in the first place.

2. What is a blackhead?
If a whitehead is a clogged pore, then what is a blackhead? Whereas whiteheads are closed, blackheads are pores clogged in the same fashion, except their plug is left open and uncovered by skin cells. When the material comes into contact with the oxygen in the air, it oxidizes and turns into a dark color we identify as a blackhead.

Which skin type does it affect?
Blackheads are found along most noses, but they’re especially common in those with oily skin. Oily skin types are usually associated with large pores that are easily clogged by an excess amount of sebum. Because the pores are larger and bigger in diameter, they’re less likely to be overgrown and closed by a new skin cell.

How to treat blackheads:
Be careful when using blackhead strips to remove your blemishes; although they can be effective, they’re also damaging when used incorrectly. Find an over the counter or prescription-strength product containing benzoyl peroxide for a better blackhead treatment solution. Benzoyl peroxide will slow down sebum production, as can a good chemical exfoliant.

3. What is a cyst?
Cystic acne goes beneath the superficial layer of the skin, and usually appears as large, red, swollen and painful bumps. They occur once a whitehead or blackhead becomes infected with bacteria, and said infection travels deep into the skin, creating a large pus-filled lesion. This form of acne is most severe, and if treated without care, can result in permanent scars.

What causes cystic acne?
Cystic acne is caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, hormonal flare ups, and various lifestyle factors such as diet and stress. To get a better understanding of your acne, it’s best to consult a skincare professional or dermatologist.

How to treat cystic acne:
Your doctor will likely prescribe either a topical or oral acne treatment to clear your cysts, because these lesions lie deep within the pore, they can be too hard for most over the counter products to reach and treat. If you need immediate relief for painful, cystic acne, try icing your blemishes to reduce swelling and tenderness.

Fab Tip: Take a look in the mirror and evaluate the appearance of your blemishes to identify which type of acne you have—and how to fight it. Remember, never pop your pimples no matter what kind of acne you have. Pressing and squeezing will push pus deeper into the skin, cause cell walls to break, bacteria to spread, and your acne to worsen.

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