What is acne?

Acne can result in pimples, whiteheads, blackheads or in more serious cases cysts and nodules on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and even the upper arms.

Acne is not restricted to any sex or age group, teenagers through to adults in their 40's – can experience this condition. It is linked to hormonal changes and the duration of acne can cause significant psychological upset. The longer term and more severe cases can cause deep tissue cuneiform scarring.

Types of acne

Acnes can be broken up into many different types of lesions which can be noted as below and are more commonly referred to as the physical change in the skin caused by a disease process in the sebaceous follicle.

Acne lesions range in severity from the more minor Blocked comedones to deeper and more severe acne cysts. Here is a breakdown of the different forms of bacteria infected lesions that acne can cause:

COMEDONES are sebaceous follicles or hair follicles clogged with dead cell cuticle, sebum and bacteria. The comedones are more commonly referred to as 'Blackheads' because the surface appearances of the infection is black in colour.

Closed COMEDONES are commonly know as whiteheads as the sebaceous follicle of the skin's surface is closed, containing pus. This is the result of the infected and swollen sebaceous follicle.

PAPULES are defined as small solid bumps which sit above the surface of the skin. Papules and microcomedones can be nearly invisible however are rough to feel.

PUSTLES are dome-shaped, fragile lesions containing pus that most often consists of a mixture of white blood cells, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Acne pustules don't often leave a scar if they have not progressed to cystic form. A pustule that forms over a sebaceous follicle usually has a hair in the centre and known as folliculitis.

MACULES are the temporary red or pink mark left by healed acne lesion. It has a well defined border and can persist for days to weeks before disappearing. When numerous macules are present, they create an inflamed appearance of the face or upper body.

NODULES like papules are solid irregularly-shaped lesions. Nodules are differentiated by its inflammation. These lesions reach into the deeper layers of the epidermis and can cause deep tissue scarring. Nodular acne is a severe condition that can be extremely painful and has an inflammatory appearance.

CYSTS are sac-like lesions containing semi-liquid material, consisting of white blood cells, dead cells, and bacteria. They are larger than pustules and nodules. Cystic acne is defined as severely inflamed painful cystic that can cause deep scarring.