All acne is not, actually, created equal. This makes perfect sense, seeing as there are so many factors — i.e. hygiene, hormones, and genetics — that can both lead to and exacerbate your breakouts. But knowledge is power, and just knowing that there are different types, and that each kind requires its own plan of attack, puts you ahead of the clear-skin curve. Once you figure out what you're working with, it gets far easier to treat. Here, your ultimate guide to identifying, and then taking down, every type of acne out there, according to dermatologists. Find out how to identify and deal with the different kinds of acne, including blackheads, whiteheads, blind pimples, and cystic zits.

Any person or organization that uses the word "cure" to advertise their acne product or device should be met with skepticism. Aside from the exception of the oral prescription medication isotretinoin, which provides long-term remission in some people who take it, a cure does not exist. You will not find a cure on the Internet or in any other type of media. What you will find are a substantial number and variety of web sites promising herbal acne cures, diet acne cures, or miracle "secrets." If a site is using language of this type, and especially if they ask you to pay for any information, leave that site. They are attempting to scam you.

I am 23, female and I barely get acnes. I have combination to oily skin but I would say its mainly oily. I got a cystic pimple on 26th November and I tried treating it with baby powder+water, toothpaste and tea tree oil+water. Should I keep doing this or should I stop? I read somewhere that I should put hot water if a headless pimple grew a head so I did and it became more tender with puss and I feel like it’s infected now. Also, it leads to another new cystic acne right beside it. Now it’s dry but it hurts and itches a lot. I get really impatient and unintentionally keep touching it.

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Axe nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.


As bizarre as it may sound, honey can actually prove to be the perfect solution to curing acne overnight. Although it seems sticky (and like it can probably do more harm than good by clogging pores), honey actually has anti-bacterial properties that help it reduce the size of pimples. Dab a small amount of honey onto a pimple and leave it on the area for an hour; then rinse off since this shouldn’t be left on overnight.
Sorry and forgot to include that I drink 4 tablespoons of ACV in a 16 oz bottle of water daily. I started with ACV because of the countless benefits I read, acne treatment included. Now I’m hooked and will continue drinking daily since there are so many benefits. One thing I totally noticed is that I fall asleep now without taking a sleeping pill. A win for me! ACV may very well be helping with my cystic acne as well. I’ve been drinking it daily for about 3 months now.
It’s especially good for cystic acne in women and body acne in men. “Oral vitamin A basically shuts down your sebaceous glands. If you suppress [them] for a long enough period, you can cure someone of their acne, and about 50 percent do hit that cure rate,” Dr. Linkner says. A course of isotretinoin can take about six to nine months. Sometimes patients need to repeat the course at a higher dosage in order to truly eliminate acne.

-Chemical exfoliants like BHAs (salicylic acid is one, which can be found in willow bark extractions for those who prefer natural) sink down INTO the skin and work to dissolve the gunk trapped in your pores. Word of warning, though, if you begin using BHAs: it’s common for it to cause a session of “purging” that lasts for up to two weeks at most, which means your skin can have more acne than usual. This SOUNDS terrible, but it’s actually a good thing– it means it’s working and causing all of the gross, deep-embedded pustules to come to the surface where they’ll be healed. Once the purging session is over, you should have drastically reduced amounts of acne as long as you keep up with your BHAs to ensure no more acne can form.
Treatment of acne scars: For those patients whose acne has gone away but left them with permanent scarring, several options are available. These include surgical procedures to elevate deep, depressed acne scars and laser resurfacing to smooth out shallow acne scars. Newer forms of laser resurfacing ("fractional resurfacing") are less invasive and heal faster than older methods, although results are less complete and the procedures may need to be repeated three or more times. These treatments can help, but they are never completely successful at eliminating acne scars.

Oral contraceptives: Oral contraceptives (birth control pills), which are low in estrogen to promote safety, have little effect on acne one way or the other. Some contraceptive pills have been shown to have modest effectiveness in treating acne. Those that have been U.S. FDA approved for treating acne are Estrostep, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, and Yaz. Most dermatologists work together with primary care physicians or gynecologists when recommending these medications.
Simple alcohols like isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol, and denatured alcohol are everywhere in acne treatment because they trick you into thinking they’re working: Splash some on and any oil on your face instantly vaporizes. However, these ingredients destroy the skin’s barrier, called the acid mantle. When your acid mantle is damaged, you’re actually more susceptible to breakouts, enlarged pores, and inflammation. To make matters worse, evaporating all the oil on your face can actually set your sebaceous glands into overdrive, leaving your skin oilier than ever. If any product included a simple alcohol high up in its ingredients list, we nixed its whole kit.

The other downside to Proactiv+ is that the bottles are small — like, half the size of Paula’s Choice small. Combine that with its recommended two or three-times daily application, and you’re going to be going through a lot of kits, which ultimately means spending more money on your treatment. If Proactiv is the only thing that works for you, it may very well be worth the investment, but we recommend starting with Paula’s Choice to see if you can get the same results at a cheaper price.

Most studies of acne drugs have involved people 12 years of age or older. Increasingly, younger children are getting acne as well. In one study of 365 girls ages 9 to 10, 78 percent of them had acne lesions. If your child has acne, consider consulting a pediatric dermatologist. Ask about drugs to avoid in children, appropriate doses, drug interactions, side effects, and how treatment may affect a child's growth and development.
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