An expert reveals the six types of pimples and how to treat them

Many of us get pimples here and there, regardless of our age and skin type, with 95% of people aged 11-30 affected by acne to some degree, according to the NHS.

So, if you’re sick of a few pimples or are really struggling with acne, it can be helpful to know that not all breakouts are created equal and therefore require different treatment to get rid of.

Celebrity cosmetic doctor Dr Ginni Mansberg, who is best known as the resident doctor of Sunrise, Australia’s leading breakfast show, explains that there are six types of pimples.

She explains that correctly identifying your pimples is key to seeking appropriate treatment.

Here, Femail reveals the six types of pimples and shares Dr. Mansberg’s advice on how to fight them:

1. SURFACE BUTTONS

Superficial pimples are the most common type of blemish and often resolve within a few days. You can, however, try a mild skin cleanser (stock image)

Dr Ginni Mansberg says these are the most common and “many of us will only ever get pimples like this”. ‘

They often disappear within a few days, go away without a scar, and usually don’t throb,” she adds.

How to deal with them:

“Cleanse with a mild skin cleanser,” she advised. ‘Look for a pH-balanced, soap-free cleanser and cleanse twice a day to remove oil, dirt and microorganisms.

“The alpha hydroxy acids will break the bonds between clumped skin cells allowing them to be effectively but gently removed.

Vitamin B3 AKA Niacinamide is another ingredient that has evidence of anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects, as well as reducing sebum or oil production.

“It can also improve this skin barrier function by preventing water loss through the epidermis (the outer layer of skin). Since many acne sufferers have the underlying dry skin from their overproduction of sebum, this can be helpful for acne as well.

2. Comedone

Open comedones are blackheads.  The color is due to surface pigmentation, not dirt.  Whiteheads appear when the follicle is completely blocked and skin has grown over it (stock image)

Open comedones are blackheads. The color is due to surface pigmentation, not dirt. Whiteheads appear when the follicle is completely blocked and skin has grown over it (stock image)

“Open comedones are blackheads where the top of the pimple is black due to surface pigmentation (not dirt!),” Dr. Mansberg explained.

“Closed comedones are whiteheads where the follicle is completely blocked and skin has grown over it.”

How to deal with them:

“Vitamin A (retinoids) is the absolute best topical for treating acne and preventing breakouts. Retinoids help increase skin cell turnover, to prevent excessive buildup of dead skin cells. They are comedolytic (elimination of pimples) and anti-inflammatory.

“Of over-the-counter retinoids, retinal (AKA retinaldehyde) is the most effective and least irritating form of vitamin A. Prescription retinoids often cause irritation, redness, dryness, and even scaling.”

3. WHEAT

The pauples are tender red bumps with no visible pus.  You can try vitamin A, salicylic acid to treat them as it is an exfoliant, with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-comedogenic properties (stock image)

The pauples are tender red bumps with no visible pus. You can try vitamin A, salicylic acid to treat them as it is an exfoliant, with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-comedogenic properties (stock image)

According to Dr. Ginni Mansberg, papules are “small tender red bumps with no obvious visible pus”.

How to deal with them:

“Alongside vitamin A, salicylic acid can also be a helpful supplement,” she said.

“It’s an exfoliant, with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-comedogenic properties that give it a very good role in fighting acne.”

4. PUSTULES

Pustules are pimples that contain pus.  You can squeeze them if you're careful, but if it doesn't work right away, stop (stock image)

Pustules are pimples that contain pus. You can squeeze them if you’re careful, but if it doesn’t work right away, stop (stock image)

Unlike papules, “pustules are pimples that contain pus,” Dr. Mansberg explained.

How to deal with them:

‘If your blackhead, whitehead or pustule isn’t hurting or inflamed, you CAN squeeze them. But be careful.

‘Wash and dry your hands thoroughly and use a blackhead extractor, gently. If it doesn’t work right away, abandon ship! she warned.

5. DEEPER BUTTONS

Deeper pimples are often more severe acne and sit in skin already affected by superficial pimples (stock image)

Deeper pimples are often more severe acne and sit in skin already affected by superficial pimples (stock image)

These mean more severe acne and often sit in skin already affected by superficial pimples.

“If you look at them under a microscope, they extend beyond the dermis into the subcutaneous layer below the dermis,” says Dr. Ginni Mansberg. “They last for weeks, often leaving a scar.”

How to deal with them:

“The treatment for modular cystic acne is oral vitamin A known as Accutane. You need to be on it for at least five months, often much longer.

“For a large cyst or nodule, a doctor may drain it with a needle and inject a steroid into the lump to reduce inflammation and pain.”

6. NODULES AND CYSTS

The nodules are deeper and tend to be harder and more painful than typical pimples.  You can try a leave-in mask, but many will need the intervention of a dermatologist (stock image)

The nodules are deeper and tend to be harder and more painful than typical pimples. You can try a leave-in mask, but many will need the intervention of a dermatologist (stock image)

“Nodules are deeper pimples that can involve more than one follicle. They are harder, painful and red,” says Dr. Ginni.

“They tend to be packed with cysts which are large fluid (pus) containing nodules and are usually over 5mm in diameter, although the 2 terms tend to be used interchangeably.”

Every pimple forms from the same problem where you get oil buildup plus excessive skin and debris that block pores and cause inflammation. This provides an ideal breeding ground for bad bacteria like Cutebacterium Acnes (or C. Acnes)

How to deal with them:

‘For a throbbing nodule or cyst, do not squeeze. A bit of ice or a cold compress can help reduce pain, redness, and swelling for some symptom relief. Ice can be wrapped in a cloth and used for 30 seconds at a time on clean skin.

“You can try a topical salicylic acid leave-on mask, such as Hydroxy Overnight Mask, or a dissolving microneedle patch, like Spotless, but most will require medical intervention,” Dr. Mansberg explained.

About Sally Dominguez

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