Acne vulgaris, the medical name for common acne, is a skin condition characterized by clogged pores (blackheads and whiteheads), inflamed pimples and pustules, and in some cases deeper lumps (nodules). Acne occurs on the face, as well as the chest, back and arms. It should be known that 95% of the population will be affected at least once in their life by acne problems.

The skin of a person prone to acne will actually produce up to 5 times more dead cells than a person with acne-free skin. Added to excessive oil production by the sebaceous glands, cells produced in large quantities will eventually accumulate and clog skin pores. They create what is called a microcomedone. It can take up to several weeks between the formation of a microcomedone and its appearance on the surface of the skin. The pimples you see today started well before you noticed them!

Acne can take different forms and may vary in severity:

Forms of Acne

  • Comedones: Pores clogged with body oil or dead skin. The comedones open to the surface of the skin form black dots and closed comedones form white dots. White dots occur when the oil and skin cells prevent the opening of a clogged hair follicle.
  • Papules: Comedones that become inflamed, forming small red or pink bumps on the skin. They can be sensitive to touch. Squeezing or pinching the papules may cause the inflammation to worsen, which may cause scarring. Depending on the number of papules, it may indicate mild, moderate or severe acne.
  • Pustules: Other type of comedones inflamed, but they look like a white head surrounded by redness.
  • Nodules: Inflamed, often painful lumps. They grow deeper under the skin and over-the-counter medications are not enough to treat them.
  • Cysts: Large lesions filled with pus that resemble boils. Often painful, as do nodules and require treatment by a dermatologist.

Types of Acne

  • Mild acne: Patients are considered to have less than 20 white dots or blackheads, less than 15 nodules or less than 30 lesions in total.
  • Moderate Acne: If you have 20 to 100 white dots or blackheads, 15 to 50 nodules, or 30 to 125 total lesions.
  • Severe Nodulocystique Acne: is considered in patients with multiple nodules and cysts on affected areas. It can leave permanent scars if they are not treated.
  • Acne Conglobata: One of the most severe forms of acne. It involves many inflamed nodules that are connected under the skin to other nodules. It can be present on the neck, back, buttocks and is more common in men. It can also be caused by the use of steroids.
  • Acne Mechanica: is caused by heat, pressure and rubbing against the skin. Often seen in athletes or other workers wearing helmets.

There may be different causes to the onset of acne and several treatments could be proposed according to the medical history, age and severity. It is therefore highly recommended to use one of our professionals at Acne-Derma in Montreal to assess the situation and allow for appropriate and effective treatment.