What is Acne|
All acne begins with one basic lesion: the comedo, an enlarged hair
follicle plugged with oil, dead skin cells and bacteria. Invisible
to the naked eye, the comedo lurks beneath the surface of your skin
waiting for the right conditions to grow into an inflamed lesion. As
the skin continues to produce more oil, bacteria flourish within the
swollen follicle. The surrounding skin becomes increasingly inflamed
as your white blood cells fight against the intruders.
Though all pimples start the same way, they can take many forms and
may react differently for different people. Please note that the
following guide is not intended to be used for conclusive self-diagnosis.
These definitions may be used to help you decide whether or not you should
consider seeking medical attention.
Types of Acne
Closed comedo, or whitehead. If the plugged follicle stays below
the surface of the skin, the lesion is called a closed comedo, or
whitehead. They usually appear on the skin as small, whitish bumps.|
Open comedo, or blackhead. If the plug enlarges and pushes through
the surface of the skin, it's called an open comedo, or blackhead.
The plug's dark appearance is not due to dirt, but rather to a build up of
melanin, the skin's dark pigment|
Papule. The mildest form of inflammatory acne is the papule, which
appears on the skin as a small, firm pink bump. These can be tender to
the touch, and are often considered an intermediary step between non-inflammatory
and clearly inflammatory lesions|
Pustule. Like papules, pustules are small round lesions; unlike papules,
they are clearly inflamed and contain visible pus. They may appear red
at the base, with a yellowish or whitish center. Pustules do not commonly
contain a great deal of bacteria; the inflammation is generally caused by
chemical irritation from sebum components such as fatty free acids.|
Nodule or Cyst. Large and usually very painful, nodules are inflamed, pus-filled
lesions lodged deep within the skin. Nodules develop when the contents of a
comedo have spilled into the surrounding skin and the local immune system
responds, producing pus. The most severe form of acne lesion, nodules may
persist for weeks or months, their contents hardening into a deep cyst.
Both nodules and cysts often leave deep scars.|
Acne conglobata. This rare but serious form of inflammatory acne develops
primarily on the back, buttocks and chest. In addition to the presence of
pustules and nodules, there may be severe bacterial infection|