The American Academy of Dermatology says that acne is the most common skin disorder in the United States, with acne affecting over 40 million people nationwide. Though acne is such a widespread problem, everyone’s pimple woes are very different from each other because there are so many different types of acne.
It isn’t only the type of acne that varies, either; each type of zit requires specific treatment, so if you have been having difficulty eliminating your acne, you may simply be taking the wrong approach.
Blackheads are one of the most common forms of acne. For most people, they tend to appear on the nose, looking like tiny black dots in each of your pores.
Blackheads occur when your pores are partially clogged because there is still space for sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria to make their way to your skin’s surface. Contrary to what most people think, the black color that you see is not dirt; it is the color of your skin’s melanin reacting with oxygen once it is out in the open.
When it comes to getting rid of blackheads, you have a few options. You should always begin any anti-acne regimen with a good skin cleanser, and to help eliminate blackheads, in particular, you should look for an oily skin cleanser that uses salicylic acid.
You could also discuss prescription medication options with a dermatologist, who would be able to prescribe creams and gels that are much stronger than any over-the-counter treatments. For example, one powerful anti-blackhead ingredient is adapalene, which is a topical retinoid and is available only with a doctor’s prescription.
A home remedy that many people find success with their blackheads is to use steam. All you do for this technique is to boil a pot of water and then grab a towel.
Lean over the boiling water, holding the towel so it covers the back of your head and the pot, and breathe deeply for about five minutes.
The steam from the hot water will open your pores, unclogging the bacteria and dead skin cells causing your blackheads, so at this point, take cotton makeup the pad or tissue and lightly run it over your face to pick up the dislodged blackheads. Afterward, wash your face with your usual cleanser.
People get whiteheads and blackheads for similar reasons: pores blocked by oil, bacteria, and/or dead skin cells.
Whiteheads differ from blackheads, however, in that they indicate a pore that is completely blocked. This is why they are white–the melanin in the follicle hasn’t had contact with oxygen and thus hasn’t changed color.
Whiteheads, though still very annoying, are not as stubborn to treat as blackheads and tend to be easily treated by consistent use of an over-the-counter acne-fighting cleanser. When selecting your cleanser, make sure that it has strong ingredients like salicylic acid or, if your acne is more severe, benzoyl peroxide.
Nodules and Cystic Acne
Both nodules and cystic acne are two fairly severe forms of acne because they are much harder to get rid of than either blackheads or whiteheads.
Nodules and cysts are very similar: both are large, painful, often hard bumps that appear under the skin and can last for months. The major difference between the two is that cysts are full of pus.
The best way to treat nodules and cysts is to get help from a dermatologist, who, in many cases, give the zit a cortisone injection that helps reduce the swelling and will help prevent it from causing any scarring.
The worst thing you can do is try and pop a nodule or cyst yourself, even though it is extremely tempting. If you squeeze one, the trapped bacteria will be forced further into the pore, prolonging the infection and making it more painful and inflamed.
Identification is Half the Battle Against Acne
No two zits are created equally; different types of acne require very different treatments.
Once you know exactly what you are dealing with, however, you can take effective action and get that acne out of your life as quickly as possible!