Acne breakouts are some of the most common skin conditions people experience. In fact, regardless of age, lifestyle, or even specific skin type, everyone will develop these pimples in some form during the course of their lives. This is why they remain continuous obstacles in the path to beautiful and healthy-looking skin. But, as regularly occurring as breakouts are, not all of them appear in the same way or even under the same conditions, which makes them increasingly difficult to mitigate. These are the different types of acne and how to treat them in your daily life.

Common Acne Types and Their Treatments

When you imagine the textbook image of an acne breakout, you might think of large, red, often painful bumps that sometimes exhibit a whitish head. However, this isn’t always the case. Some may develop in this way, while others may not even be inflamed at all. But make no mistake, all of them pose a risk to the appearance and health of your skin because of the infection they create deep within your pores. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with these different types of acne and their appearances is the best way to identify and stop them early.


Blackheads are enlarged pores that are open along the surface of the skin. After filling with ample amounts of oil, dead skin cells, and other debris, they begin to display a black or brownish color. However, contrary to popular belief, this color isn’t due to the presence of dirt and oil within the pore. It’s actually the result of sunlight reflecting differently off of the clogged and swollen hair follicle within that pore. These blemishes are the least severe form of acne, but they can eventually develop into something more severe after collecting more debris.

The treatment for blackheads is often as simple as using specially formulated over-the-counter products. Salicylic acid is a particularly effective ingredient due to the dissolving effect it has on the impurities within the pores. Using it regularly in low concentrations can clear away excess material and prevent blackheads from turning into full-blown breakouts.


Should a blackhead continue to accumulate oil and dirt from the surface of your skin, it can eventually turn into a whitehead. These blemishes are similar in appearance to blackheads, but instead of an open and black top, they’re closed up and often white with pus. Still, they’re relatively small, and at first glance, they only appear to be a bump sticking out from the surface of the skin.

Unfortunately, whiteheads aren’t nearly as easy as blackheads to treat. This is because the pore has already been closed and is keeping the infection trapped inside. Your first instinct may be to pop them, but trust us when we say this isn’t a good idea. Popping whiteheads opens them up for additional bacteria to flood in, which can cause them to worsen rather than get better. Instead, try using skin care products with retinoids, which are better at penetrating the outer layer of skin.


Papules don’t appear to have a head at all. They’re small red bumps that develop deeper in your skin and slowly rise to the surface over time. They can be incredibly sensitive and, therefore, painful to the touch. Like whiteheads and blackheads, this form of acne is also the result of a pore clogging with oil and dead skin cells. But what makes this infection worse are the bacteria that enter the mix. These germs cause the surrounding skin to inflame, making the blemish painful.

Since bacteria cause this form of breakout, antibiotic ointments or pills are typically best for reducing papules. Dermatologists also often prescribe a topical retinoid to penetrate the skin and reach the root of the problem.


Pustules are inflamed and painful as well. However, they’re slightly larger than papules and have white, pus-filled heads as the result of further infection. This type is most likely to develop in larger patches along the chest, face, and back. Significant hormone changes in the body due to puberty, pregnancy, or other physical changes can also cause pustules.

These blemishes also require antibacterial products to prevent them from spreading to other areas of the skin. Like whiteheads, they shouldn’t be popped; doing so can lead to further damage and tissue scarring. Consult your doctor if they’re causing you extreme discomfort so that you can have them safely drained.


Nodules sit even deeper in your skin and appear as large, red, flesh-colored bumps. They feel firm, almost hard to the touch, and they can’t be drained to relieve pressure. Unfortunately, most topical treatments can’t even penetrate these blemishes. The best option is for a dermatologist to treat them with benzoyl peroxide. This substance is effective at sinking through the hardened center of the nodule and dissolving the bacteria inside.


Cystic acne can cause the most damage of all. It’s considered the most severe form of breakout, and it has the largest chance of scarring. Cysts feature all the characteristics we previously described: large, red, inflamed, filled with pus, and incredibly painful. They tend to be softer than nodules, but they contain the same type of bacteria and can spread given the chance. Make sure you talk to your dermatologist to discuss the best form of treatment.

Additional Tips for Treating Acne

While you’re undergoing the treatment process, it’s helpful to adopt good skin care habits to reduce your chances of developing additional acne. Actions such as removing your makeup before bed, thoroughly rinsing your face after washing, and refraining from touching your skin are great ways to limit bacteria and debris. They might not stop breakouts completely, but they can make a difference.

No one should have to constantly struggle with acne-prone skin. This is why we at Flawless Beauty & Skin put our all into creating formulas that actively fight the conditions that lead to acne’s development. Our acne treatments specifically target the source of skin infection and dissolve the debris clogging your pores. We also offer a series of other beauty and skin care products online to treat a variety of additional skin blemishes such as hyperpigmentation and scarring. Regardless of your skin care goals, we’re confident that we have the supplies to help.