Different Types of Acne

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When it comes to acne there are many different types. It’s always useful to know what you are dealing with in order to apply the proper methods for treatment. Today, we are going to go over the different types of acne and their recommended treatment methods to better help you understand your skin.  There are many options when trying to figure out the right treatment plan for you, and luckily Virtual Acne offers personalized online acne treatment consultations, starting at just $49.

Mild Acne

With Mild Acne, you will see what are called comedones, which is the technical name for those notorious whiteheads and blackheads we all have come to know at some point! At this point in the game we are looking at what is considered to be non-inflammatory acne consisting of a few lesions that are close to the surface and not deep or inflamed. According to the “Acne Visual Dictionary” mild acne typically consists of fewer than 20 whiteheads or blackheads, fewer than 15 inflamed bumps, or fewer than 30 total lesions. This type of acne is usually responsive to over the counter treatments which can sometimes take up to 8 weeks for improvement.


Blackheads are caused by your skin producing too much oil. Blackheads are created when a follicle in your skin becomes plugged and pushes through the surface. Blackheads are not the result of dirt buildup in the pores but of the oils reaction to the air causing it to turn black.  Blackheads can be treated with many over the counter products containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, sulfur, and salicylic and glycolic acid.

Moderate Acne

With moderate acne you will see more whiteheads and papules.  These lesions are deeper and present some redness. Moderate acne typically consists of 30-125 total lesions and it is recommended by dermatologists to use prescription medication taking up to several weeks to improve, often times getting worse before it gets better.


Whiteheads are the result of your pores accumulating oils and sebum and plugging up the skin follicles which are known as lesions. The reason these lesions turn into whiteheads is because the clogged area is not exposed to air. White heads can be treated with many over the counter products containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, sulfur, or salicylic and glycolic acid, similar to the treatment of blackheads. In some cases you may need something more such as a retinoid cream or some form of prescription treatment.

Papules (pimples)

Papules are the result of comedones becoming inflamed forming small red or pink bumps on the skin. These types of pimples have a tendency to be sensitive to the touch and as I personally know picking and popping can make the inflammation even worse sometimes leading to what we know as acne scarring. A large number of papules can be considered either moderate or severe in some cases.

Severe Acne

Pustules (pimples)

Pustules are considered another type of pimple that has become inflamed. They appear to look like a whitehead presenting redness around the lesions. A pustule is usually filled with white or yellow pus. At all costs you must avoid picking or popping pustules in order to avoid dark spots and scars on the skin.

Nodules and Cysts

Nodules and Cysts are large and inflamed bumps that are firm to the touch. They are deep within the skin resulting in often very painful lesions. Over-the-counter treatments may not be powerful enough to clear up this type of acne resulting in the need to see a Dermatologist to better help with a treatment plan more tailored to the severity of this type of acne.

Acne Conglobata

Acne Conglobata is considered to be one of the most severe forms of acne, resulting in many inflamed nodules connected under the skin to other nodules. It can affect the neck, chest, arms, and buttocks. Timely treatment by a Dermatologist is highly recommended.

Acne Mechanica

Have you ever had sports induced or work out induced acne? I know I have! Acne Mechanica is caused by the heat, friction, and pressure you may feel against the skin from sports gear or the clothing you wear during sports related activities or workouts. It can also be caused from sweat itself. Preventative measures would be to wear moisture wicking fabrics and showering immediately after. Another preventative measure for those who wear cosmetics would be to thoroughly remove makeup before a good workout, and cleanse the skin after.


At the end of the day we all know our own skin and what our bodies need. There are many over-the-counter treatment measures you can take on your own but if you don’t see any significant improvement over several weeks then it may be time to visit the dermatologist.

Oh, the dread of calling to make an appointment, taking time off, driving to an office, and waiting to be seen!  If only it was easy! Well, it is! With Virtual Acne, you can consult online or through our mobile app with a board certified Dermatologist, and receive your results in less than 24hrs. Plus, when you use our mobile app, monthly subscriptions plans are reduced to $45 a visit.

We are currently only serving Washington State and California, but if you’re interested in seeing if your state is eligible or when it will be, just contact us!

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