Acne is a skin condition that can include symptoms such as red spots, whiteheads, and blackheads. Sometimes called pustules, papules, zits, pimples, cysts, and blemishes, acne is not just a teenage problem as adult acne affects millions of people to varying degrees.
There are numerous causes of acne, including hormone dysregulation, bacterial infection with Propionibacterium acnes, overproduction of sebum, and excessive proliferation of skin cells, leading to blocked pores. Establishing the root cause of blemishes is essential for properly treating and preventing acne outbreaks.
Treatments for acne may include skin creams and lotions, antibiotics, high doses of vitamin A, skin peels, laser skin resurfacing, and correction of dysbiosis, nutrient deficiencies, and infection. Acne treatment is more complicated in pregnancy, due to the potential side effects of the most commonly prescribed acne medications.
Acne may be more easily managed when sticking to a low glycaemic index diet in order to manage blood sugar levels and keep inflammation at bay. Get your copy of Eat to Beat Acne now! This is the first in a series of books from Naturally Healthy People dealing with a natural approach to skin care.
Types of Acne – What’s in a Name?
Acne strikes in a variety of forms and can range from the odd pimple here and there to a severe, painful, debilitating skin condition. Acne types are named rather creatively, usually based on their appearance. So, what’s in a name? When it comes to acne, rather a lot.
Here’s a quick run-down of acne types, with links to more information.
The three most common types of acne are as follows:
- Acne vulgaris
- Acne rosacea
- Acne conglobata.
Less common acne types include:
- Pyoderma Faciale
- Acne fulminans
- Gram-negative folliculitis.
Acne vulgaris is the most common form of acne and, while its name sounds rather pejorative, it comes from the Latin vulgaris, which simply means common. There are three subtypes of acne vulgaris:
- Non-inflammatory acne (mild acne vulgaris) – characterised by whiteheads and blackheads
- Inflammatory acne (moderate acne vulgaris) – characterised by papules, pustules, and macules
- Cystic acne (severe acne vulgaris) – characterised by cysts and nodules (often leads to severe scarring).
Because it’s so common, we cover this skin condition a lot on this site. It is also the focus of Eat to Beat Acne: how a plant-based diet can help heal your skin.
Acne rosacea is another fairly common skin problem. This inflammatory skin condition is characterised by redness and spidery blood vessels that look like acne. Most often, acne rosacea affects the nose, cheeks, chin, eyelids, and forehead. We cover acne rosacea in more depth here.
A conglobate is a round compact mass, which gives some indication of the type of skin condition described as acne conglobata. This skin condition involves severe inflammation, with numerous, deep, inflammatory nodules and often results in scarring. Acne conglobata is treated with corticosteroids and isotretinoin.
Less Common Types of Acne
Pyoderma faciale has also been referred to as Rosacea fulminans, and is generally considered to be a rare skin disorder. Some dermatologists believe, however, that it is more common than typically thought and that this is, in part, because less severe cases are not documented in medical literature.
As its name suggests, pyoderma faciale affects the face and is pyogenic, meaning that the skin eruptions contain pus. The condition is characterised by the sudden onset of nodules and sinuses on the lower part of the face. It usually affects young adult women who have a history of blushing and flushing, but who have little or no experience of acne or rosacea. It is not connected to dysfunctional menstruation or medications, but is considered to be associated with psychological stress.
Pyoderma faciale is usually treated with a short course of systemic or high-potency topical steroids, followed by isotretinoin treatment lasting three to four months. Less severe cases may respond to topical agents and systemic steroids.
Acne Fulminans is a rare and serious condition. It is also known as acne maligna, acute febrile ulcerative acne, and acute febrile ulcerative conglobate acne with polyarthralgia. To be fulminant means to be severe (potentially lethal) and sudden in onset and, indeed, this skin condition is characterized by sudden occurrence of painful, inflammatory, ulcerative lesions with hemorrhagic crusts.
Acne fulminans can lead to severe acne scarring, especially if not treated early. It is often accompanied by other symptoms such as fluctuating fever, painful joints, malaise, loss of appetite, and laboratory abnormalities. Typically, the lesions appear on the back and torso, with the face less severely affected.
Gram-Negative folliculitis is an infection of the follicles caused by gram-negative organisms. It may arise as a complication of acne vulgaris and rosacea, particularly where long-term antibiotics are used to treat these conditions.
Gram-negative folliculitis may also occur after immersion in a hot-tub, and in cases of HIV infection. This skin condition should be considered as a diagnosis in people with acne who have a flare-up of cystic lesions or pustular lesions or whose acne does not respond to treatment.