Acne 101- Everything You Need To Know About Acne

acne 101

At some point in our lives, we all have struggled with acne! 

The most annoying skin condition affects a large percentage of the population, particularly during adolescence. While acne is generally considered to be a cosmetic issue, trust us there is more to it. Acne can even lead to a significant impact on an individual’s self-esteem and quality of life. 

But don’t worry anymore. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about acne to combat them.

What Are Acne?

A very common skin condition that occurs when the hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It typically appears on the face, chest, back, and even sometimes shoulders. Acne usually happens during the teens when hormonal changes are at the peak however, it can also take breakout at any other point in life too. They have fluid filled in them and can be painful as well

The severity of acne can vary from person to person, ranging from a few pimples to widespread breakouts. 

Types of Acne

1. Whiteheads

Whiteheads are small, raised bumps that occur when the hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. They are called whiteheads because they are covered by a thin layer of skin, which gives them a white appearance.  

2. Blackheads

Blackheads are small, dark bumps that occur when the hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. They are called blackheads because the surface of the bump is exposed to air, which causes the oil and dead skin cells to oxidize and turn black.

3. Papules

Papules are small, raised bumps that are typically red or pink in colour. They occur when the hair follicles become inflamed, and the surrounding skin becomes red and tender. It starts out as a comedone (either closed or open), then becomes inflamed when bacteria that live on the skin overgrow inside that clogged pore.

4. Pustules

Pustules are similar to papules, but they contain pus. They are raised, inflamed bumps that are typically filled with white or yellow pus.  When the red papule forms a white, pus-filled head, you now have a tender pustule. People often mistake this white head as, well, a “whitehead,” but in clinical derm-speak, those are two very different things.

5. Nodules

Nodules are large, painful bumps that occur deep beneath the surface of the skin. They are typically red or purple in colour and can be very tender to the touch. Appearance-wise, nodules look like hard lesions that feel like lumps under the skin; and while they may be flesh-toned or red, they’re often pretty painful to the touch. 

6. Cysts

Cysts are similar to nodules, but they are typically larger and more severe. They are filled with pus and can be very painful. And unlike hard nodules, cysts can be soft to the touch  Cysts can also cause scarring if left untreated.

Why Do People Struggle With Acne?


If you struggle with acne then there could be multiple reasons that could be causing them. Sometimes it could be genetics sometimes hormonal, and sometimes even environmental factors. It could be either one or the combination of these factors giving you that painful acne.

Some people are simply more prone to acne than others, due to their genetic makeup which is quite normal for them. Hormonal changes can also play a role in the development of acne, particularly during puberty and pregnancy. It is often noticed that most people have their people pimple or acne breakout during puberty. All this is because of the massive hormonal changes caused in the body of both men and women during this time. 

Environmental factors, such as pollution, dirt and stress, can also contribute to the development of acne.

Inflammatory Vs Non-Inflammatory Acne?

There are two main types of acne: inflammatory and non-inflammatory.

To be clear, inflammation is the root cause of all forms of acne. (This distinction is a little misleading, but it aids in identifying the aesthetic distinctions.)

1. Inflammatory Acne- These types of acne are more tender, puffy, and enraged than others. This group includes cysts, nodules, pustules, and papules because they are all typically painful and red. 

2. Non-inflammatory Acne- Non-inflammatory acne causes smaller, less obvious bumps; these are your whiteheads, blackheads, and subclinical breakouts. Apart from blackheads, which are darker in colour, the bumps, also referred to as comedonal acne, typically have a flesh tone. It commonly affects the chest, back, and T-zone region of the face and is brought on by clogged hair follicles.

When there is an overgrowth of bacteria (specifically Cutibacterium acnes), which can lead to the release of inflammatory cytokines and messengers to create clinical inflammation, non-inflammatory acne can later become inflamed. So once more, inflammation underlies all forms of acne.

Along with acne, other skin conditions can have an acne-like appearance, like “fungal acne.” Fungal acne is not acne; rather, it is a form of folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicle), which develops when yeast gets stuck inside the hair follicles and causes bumps that resemble pimples.

Treatment for Acne

There are many treatment options available for acne, ranging from over-the-counter medications to prescription drugs. Some of the most common treatments for acne include:

1. Topical Medications

Topical medications, such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, are often used to treat mild to moderate acne. These medications work by killing the bacteria that cause acne and reducing inflammation.

1. AHA or BHA: You can prevent clogged pores by sloughing off dead skin cells beforehand.A gentle exfoliator is a good choice to do so. Salicylic acid is a fantastic choice for oily skin because it can easily shimmy into the pores and is oil-soluble, whereas AHAs like lactic acid are typically more hydrating and suitable for people with drier or sensitive skin types. 

2. Retinols: The skin’s natural turnover process is accelerated by retinol and retinoids to avoid the buildup of dead skin cells in the pore. Topical retinoids have a comedolytic effect, meaning they help prevent and treat clogged pores.

3. Benzoyl Peroxide: In addition to removing pore-clogging substances like dead skin cells (which can cause subclinical acne), benzoyl peroxide can also kill the bacteria that cause acne. If you choose to use retinol, you should exercise caution because when benzoyl peroxide and retinoids (or retinol) are used at the same time, they may interact and make them both less effective. 

For the same reason, stick to a benzoyl peroxide face wash in the morning if you do use retinol so that you can apply it at night without the two interacting. 

4. DIY Masks: Plenty of at-home DIY masks works wonder on certain types of acne. Natural ingredients like yoghurt, honey, charcoal, and gram flour can be used to make a face mask at home. 

2. Oral Medications

If nothing works out for you in applying things tropically then you can try Oral medications after a doctor’s consultation. Medications such as antibiotics and hormonal therapies are often used to treat moderate to severe acne. These medications work by reducing inflammation and killing the bacteria that cause acne.

However, doctors’ advice is a must in such cases.

Food to Avoid for Acne

There has long been a debate about whether or not diet plays a role in the development of acne. While no clear-cut answer exists, some studies have suggested that certain foods can exacerbate acne symptoms.

One such food is dairy. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that individuals who consumed more dairy products were more likely to suffer from acne than those who consumed less or none at all. This is thought to be due to the hormones present in dairy products.

Sugar is another food to avoid if you have acne. Sugary snacks and drinks and foods with a high glycemic index can raise insulin levels, which can then increase inflammation and sebum production, both of which are contributors to the emergence of acne.  A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a low-glycemic-load diet resulted in a significant reduction in acne severity.

It is advised that people who have acne stay away from meals that are high in saturated and trans fats. These meals may increase inflammation, which could make acne problems worse.

Skincare Ingredients That Help In Getting Rid Of Acne

There are a variety of skincare ingredients that can help to treat acne. 

1. Salicylic acid:  Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that exfoliates the skin and unclogs pores. It is particularly effective for treating non-inflammatory acne, such as blackheads and whiteheads. A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that salicylic acid was more effective at reducing the number of acne lesions than a placebo.

2. Benzoyl peroxide: Benzoyl peroxide is an antibacterial agent that kills the bacteria responsible for causing acne. It is particularly effective for treating inflammatory acne, such as papules and pustules. A study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology found that benzoyl peroxide was effective in reducing both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions.

3. Tea tree oil: It is a natural ingredient that is effective in treating acne. A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that a 5% tea tree oil gel was as effective as a 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion in reducing the number of acne lesions.

Precautions that Should be Taken to Prevent Acne

Acne cannot be completely avoided, but there are certain measures that may be taken to lessen the likelihood of getting it.

The maintenance of clean skin is one such safeguard. This entails using a soft cleanser to wash the face twice daily and refraining from over-scrubbing or using abrasive exfoliants. Additionally, it’s crucial to avoid contacting your face with soiled hands, which might contaminate the skin.

Avoiding using heavy skincare and cosmetics items that can block pores is another precaution. Look for products with the designation “non-comedogenic,” which indicates that they are less likely to result in acne. In order to prevent the growth of bacteria, it is also crucial to routinely wash makeup brushes and sponges.

Finally, it’s critical to control stress levels because stress can make acne symptoms worse. Regular exercise, mindfulness exercises like yoga and meditation, and adequate rest are all effective ways to lower stress levels and enhance skin health in general.

Read More: Skincare Ingredient You Need To Say No To

Our Final Thoughts

Acne can be very taxing but little care and changes in lifestyle can help you combat them. If you feel that the cause of your acne is something to do with your hormonal or genetics then consult your dermatologist. They can address these issues to determine your best course of treatment.

Embracing the way you are is important and although acne can affect your self-esteem, do not let it come in your way. Stay confident, and stay strong because, in the end, it’s just the beauty inside that matters!


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