When you wake up with a blemish on your face, you may feel like you’re going to stand out for the rest of the day. Also called acne, blemishes are actually a common occurrence: Brown University's health education website estimates that 17 million Americans of all ages suffer this skin problem. Differentiating between blemishes can help you treat common types of acne.
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Pimples or Zits
Pimples or “zits” are a combination of oil and bacteria that becomes trapped in broken hair follicles in the pores. This is why the pore has pus, and the surrounding tissue is red and inflamed. Topical benzoyl peroxide spot treatments are effective in reducing swelling and killing the bacteria.
Blackheads and Whiteheads
Blackheads and whiteheads both form from excess oil. However, the difference is that dead skin cells help create blackheads. A pore opens when a blackhead is formed, while a whitehead essentially clogs your pore and traps the oil underneath your skin’s surface. Blackheads and whiteheads are best treated and prevented with salicylic acid acne medication.
Cysts and Nodules
Acne cysts and nodules aren’t as common as other forms of acne, but they are still prevalent among individuals with oily skin. You’re especially at risk if you have a family history of them. A cyst has pus like a pimple, but it is deep below the surface of the skin. A nodule also forms under the skin, but it is a completely solid lesion of oil. Both conditions are painful, and are best treated at a dermatologist’s office to reduce the potential for scarring.