Acne Affects Everyone Propionibacterium Common Types Myths Treatment

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Female with acne on forehead and chin

We have all had a pimple at one time or another. It is never a welcome sight. You may go into anxiety mode with what to do but acne affects everyone.

Acne is a common condition that dermatologist see in their practice. It can occur over a variety of settings as well as different times of your life. This makes it a challenge to treat.

Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes and not for diagnosis. More details.

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Having your face break out can be emotionally stressful. You wait to have one pimple clear up only to have another come through. Sometimes symptoms may be severe leading to scars.

More importantly acne can affect your quality of life. As it, may cause embarrassment or low self-esteem. This condition has been given a whole month of awareness.

June is National Acne Awareness Month.

American Acne & Rosacea Society (AARS)

What is Acne?

So in order to understand treatment options let’s take a look at what we’re dealing with.

Acne is a skin condition (some call disease) involving your oil glands. Your oil glands are responsible for producing sebum. Hair follicles are connected to your oil glands. 

The oil glands also transport dead skin cells to the skin’s surface. A pimple forms because the thin hair follicle becomes clogged. Pimples look like red raised spots containing a white tip.

These develop as hair follicles are blocked becoming inflamed or infected with bacteria. The bacteria are called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). P. acne lives on your skin contributing to infections causing pimples.

Its severity along with frequency, depend on the particular strain of bacteria. Some strains of bacteria don’t trigger pimples. There is one strain that actually keeps your skin pimple free.

Although it’s not recognized as a serious health threat, if left untreated it can cause scars. Not to mention how it affects the way you think about yourself.

Common symptoms are pimples, blackheads along with other bumps.

The condition usually develops on areas with the most oil glands:

  • Face
  • Forehead
  • Chest
  • Upper back
  • Shoulders

Myths Concerning Acne

Chocolate and Greasy Foods

Just consuming chocolate and greasy foods has very little to do with your acne. There is no scientific evidence of this. So you can enjoy these without being concerned about pimples arriving.

Skin Hygiene

If you have acne it’s not because of dirty skin. It’s a condition that develops because of the right factors.

However you don’t want to scrub your skin too hard. Avoid using harsh products and methods as well. All these can irritate skin and make your acne worse.

Acne Only Happens in Teens

You may think this because it’s commonly seen with teenagers. But people of all races and ages both men and women get acne. Therefore teens aren’t the only ones dealing with the pimples.

Acne Just Happens to People With Oily Skin

No matter the skin type people suffer from acne. All skin types can have whiteheads, blackheads as well as other types.

It’s OK to Pop

Not really a good idea. There is the concern about being sanitary. And you really need to know what you are doing.

You also don’t want to pick at skin. By squeezing your pimple your immune system gets involved.

The result skin turns red. Popping can also bring even more bacteria to your blemish. This can cause acne scars that don’t go away.

No Need to Treat

Acne is chronic, it doesn’t just go away. This condition exists on your skin below its surface. Managing your acne is the best route to go.

What Causes Acne?

Four main acne causing factors:

  • Excess oil (sebum) production
  • Clogged hair follicles
  • Bacteria
  • Dead skin cells

What are Different Acne Types?

To pick a treatment that’s best for your skin it is important to understand the type you have and why. There are different types of acne affecting all genders and ages. The most familiar acne types are blackheads, whiteheads and cyst.

Here are the types:

  • Blackheads – are open clogged pores
  • Whiteheads – are closed clogged pores
  • Papules – small red, sensitive bumps
  • Pustules – are pimples similar to papules instead with pus at tip
  • Nodules – are painful solid large lumps under your skin
  • Cysts – these lesions are painful pus filled lumps under the skin

Non-inflammatory (comedonal acne)

Non-inflammatory acne consists of: Blackheads and whiteheads.

These usually don’t cause swelling. Over the counter (OTC) products show good results.

Salicylic acid often works well with non-inflammatory acne. It gently exfoliates the skin, taking away dead skin cells that cause blackheads and whiteheads. Dr. Pimple Popper has a cleanser that I have used.

Blackheads (Open Comedones)

You may think your blackhead has dirt stuck in it. However it is congested with dead skin cells and oil. The pores surface remains open when the tip is exposed to air it turns dark.

Whiteheads (Closed Comedones)

Whiteheads can also develop when your pore becomes clogged with sebum and dead skin cells. But the top of the pore closes up. It can resemble a small bump extending from your skin.

Because the whitehead is closed this makes it more difficult to treat. Products with salicylic acid can be helpful again. Topical retinoid are said to give the best results for this type of acne.

Female with acne on face
Photo by Shotpot from pexels


Inflammatory acne consists of: papules, pustules, nodules and cysts.

Red along with swollen pimples is called inflammatory acne. These painful red spots may be hard to treat. In addition to sebum and dead skin cells bacteria also plays a role here.

Due to bacteria an infection can develop deep beneath the skin’s surface. To help decrease swelling along with getting rid of bacteria use products with benzoyl peroxide. These can also take away excess sebum.

Your dermatologist can prescribe an oral or topical antibiotic as well with the benzoyl peroxide. Topical retinols are important with treating inflammatory papules and pustules also.


Papules develop because the walls around your pores break down due to severe inflammation. This causes hard, clogged pores which feel tender when touched. Skin color circling these pores is usually pink.


Pustules can also occur when your pore walls collapse. The difference with pustules is they are filled with pus. Typically red in color these bumps pop out of your skin. Their heads on top are often yellow or white.


Nodules develop when clogged swollen pores are further irritated then grow in size. Not like papules and pustules these extend deeper underneath your skin. Because nodules are so far under your skin you can’t really treat with success at home.

A prescription medication is required to clear these up. Your dermatologist will prescribe the oral medication isotretinoin (Sotret) most likely. This includes vitamin A and is used each day for a period of four to six months.

It works by reducing oil gland size in your pores.


Cysts occur when your pores become clogged with a mixture of sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria. When a hair follicle is blocked and inflamed deep within your skin even further down than nodules. The result is large red or white bumps that are usually painful when touched.

Cysts are the largest type of acne. They typically develop from a severe infection. This kind of acne is generally the one that scars.

Isotretinion (Sotret) is a prescription medication commonly given to treat cyst. Your dermatologist with severe cases may perform a surgery to remove the cyst.

What Triggers or Worsens Acne?

These may trigger or worsen acne:

Hormonal Changes

During puberty sex hormones called androgens increase causing your sebaceous glands to grow and produce more sebum.

Women may experience acne with pregnancy and menopause.

Some Medications

Containing either:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Testosterone
  • Lithium

Work Atmosphere

Working in a fast food facility with steamers and fryers can aggravate your acne. It’s like pollution affecting your skin.


There is no known diet for acne currently. More studies need to be done. Rich carbohydrates for example: bread, bagels and potato chips may make things worse.


Stress can make any skin condition worse. It just puts more hormones in your bloodstream.

When to see Your Dermatologist

If regular over the counter products don’t improve your condition you may need to see your dermatologist. Your dermatologist can prescribe stronger creams to help with more aggressive treatment.

For many females acne can be a problem that comes with your period. This usually goes away without treatment. But if this should become severe or bothersome you may want to seek help.

The development of severe acne in older adults may be a sign of an underlying condition that requires medical treatment. Acne lotions, cleansers along with other common OTC products can cause serious reactions. Serious reactions are rare but don’t confuse this with redness, irritation or itchiness after applying a medication or product.

Serious symptoms that need medical attention after using a product on your skin:

  • Feeling faint
  • Breathing problems
  • Eyes, face, lips or tongue swells
  • Throat feels tight

Wrapping it up

Acne is a common condition that all of us face at some time in our lives. It is more than an average pimple. Because it is chronic it always comes back.

The condition may affect your quality of life depending on the severity. There are many myths linked to acne and they are just myths. Different types of blemishes determine the acne type.

As always if this is a concern for you consult your dermatologist who can help you further with treatment. Managing the acne is important. Acne does need some care.

Do you suffer with acne? What is the biggest problem?

Header Photo by Shotpot from pexels

Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fourteen years.
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