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Skin School  >   Acne Basics

An Acnepedia: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Pimples

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When treating breakouts or pimples, it’s important to remember that not all acne was created equal. What works for blackheads won’t work for papules and using the wrong treatment could even make your acne worse. In this post, we’ll walk you through the six main types of acne and some natural methods to treat each. 

 Image of health sebaceous gland, whitehead, blackhead (open comedo), papule, and pustule (inflammation)


Definition: Blackheads are a mixture of dead skin cells, sebum, bacteria and grime. They develop when a follicular opening is clogged. The black color on the surface is from the open top of the pore.

Treatment: Exfoliators boost skin cell turnover and help your skin avoid clogs.


DefinitionWhiteheads are similar to blackheads in formation, but are covered with a thin layer of skin that appears as a white bump. 

Treatment: Avoid touching your face (especially with dirty fingers) and use more natural products, such as tea tree oil, vitamin A cream, and aloe vera to help soothe skin.


Definition: Papules, small pink or red dome-shaped bumps, are caused by an overproduction of sebum and excess dead skin cells. They form when a follicular wall breaks down and the white blood cells rush in and come into contact with bacteria. This causes inflammation, and sometimes even pain. 

Treatment: Avoid skin irritants, excessive exfoliation, and greasy cosmetics or sunscreen. Also, keep hair, clothing and phones away from skin as much as possible. Most importantly, never pick on a papule, or it may leave a scar.


Definition: Pustules are bulging patches of skin filled with pus (what you probably picture first when you think of the word “pimple”). They can be caused by an allergic reaction, environmental allergens, poisonous insect bites or hormonal imbalances. They can sometimes become very hard and painful.

Treatment: Similar to how you would treat papules, use natural and gentle products (such as Mighty Patch) to help soothe breakouts. Wash your face with warm water and a mild facial cleanser and use products that are non-acnegenic or oil-free.


Definition: Nodular acne is characterized by the presence of large, inflamed and painful breakouts. Nodules affect the deep layer of the skin and can last a long time, sometimes for months. They develop when p.acne bacteria, along with sebum and dead skin cells, get trapped in your pores. 

Treatment: Face masks with natural ingredients could help soothe nodular acne and reduce scarring. And as with any type of acne, eating clean and exercising daily could also help minimize breakouts. 

RELATED READ: Does Chocolate Really Cause Acne?


Definition: Cystic acne appears as large, red and painful breakouts deep in your skin. If a cyst bursts, the acne infection can spread and cause additional breakouts. Cystic acne can linger for years, affect large areas of your skin, and even leave permanent scars.

Treatment: Try applying an ice cube directly to the breakout for a few seconds to constrict the small blood vessels feeding the cysts. It’s also a good idea to change your towels and pillowcases frequently and wash them with natural, unscented laundry products.

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