What are the different types of acne and their severity?
Sometimes acne is nothing more than a simple pimple, a bit of trapped pus consisting of sebum, dead skin cells and white blood cells. But it can be more severe.
Knowing which type of acne you have is the key to forming a proper diagnosis and building your acne treatment plan.
Professional Grading of Acne Types
Professionals recommending a course of treatment will rank the types of acne by Grade.
Grade I Acne includes milder, non-inflamed types such as blackheads, whiteheads or milia.
Grade II Acne involves a larger number of these and frequently includes papules or pustules that are mildly inflamed.
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- Papules are small lesions showing a change or break in the skin, that is smaller than 5 mm, about the width of a thin pencil. They’re in the form of a bump that rises above the surface of the skin.
- A pustule, by contrast, is pus-filled and a mixture of bacteria, white blood cells and dead skin cells.
Grade IV Acne is the most severe level and includes nodules and cysts. The inflammation is usually wide spread and the infected area will involve more than the face.
Acne vulgaris is the common form of mild acne. Any of the Grade I forms will fall under this heading. They can usually be treated with over the counter acne medications.
In more severe forms acne can develop into a type known as acne congoblata.
The name may sound amusing, but the condition is anything but. It’s characterized by heavy inflammation and deep abscesses. The result is often scarring and other forms of serious skin damage.
Inflamed nodules will form around comedones – a general term for blackheads, whiteheads and milia. They often grow until they spontaneously discharge pus. While they do they’re painful. When they do they’re unsightly. Keliod-type scars are commonly left behind.
Another type of acne is known as acne fulminans.
Here, the nodules will often ulcerate, leading to a painful and recurrent form of acne.
The person afflicted may even develop a fever or aching joints.
Treatment with corticosteroids or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) is usually called for. But these treat symptoms, not the underlying cause.
In still more severe types of acne the development of nodulocystic acne can occur.
Cysts form (red bumps produced by severe inflammation), but they’re of an unusual type. Sometimes they become numerous and close enough together to form a larger inflamed area.
When they form small tunnels under the skin, infection can spread more readily. An antibiotic treatment is then required and isotretinoin (brand name: Accutane) is frequently employed.
Gram-negative folliculitis occurs when the follicles, the shaft in which hairs grow and sebum flows from the sebaceous glands, become infected.
Bacteria grow inside and the body responds by using white blood cells to fight the infection. The result is a deep eruption that calls for special treatment.
The type of bacteria that produces folliculitis may be resistant to normal antibiotics. In fact, the condition may have resulted from incorrect treatment of other types of acne using antibiotics.
Proper diagnosis of these serious types of acne calls for a visit to a medical professional. A dermatologists care can be required in very severe cases. Severe acne is not only a serious physical condition but it can also affect the sufferers mental wellbeing.
[blockquote]There’s very little anyone can do about their heredity or genetics and passing through teenage years is a normal part of growing up. But good skin care, as well as quick treatment at the onset of symptoms and other controllable choices will help keep what causes acne at bay.[/blockquote]