Before you can treat your acne it is necessary to know just which sort of acne you are suffering from as, in spite of what most of us think, acne can be far more than a simple case of spots caused by trapped skin oil, white blood cells, dead skin cells and bacteria.
Acne is frequently classified by grade starting with grade I which includes mild, non-inflamed forms of acne like blackheads and whiteheads. We then move to grade II acne which involves instances of acne involving a large number of blackheads and whiteheads and usually also includes papules or pustules which are somewhat inflamed.
A papule is a small lesion, or break in the skin, that appears as a bump which sits proud of the surface of the skin and that is generally less than about 5 mm across. A pustule is very similar to a papule although it is pus-filled and contains a mixture of bacteria, dead skin cells and white blood cells.
Moving up the scale we come to grade III acne which is just a severe case of grade II acne in which the pustules and papules are larger, more numerous and red.
Finally, we come to grade IV acne which is the severest case of acne and covers cysts and nodules. Inflammation in the case of grade IV acne is usually wide spread and this form of acne typically encompasses more than simply the face.
Grade I acne, which includes the commonest form of mild acne referred to as acne vulgaris, is not normally hard to deal with and can ordinarily be cleared up with over-the-counter medications.
A somewhat more severe form of acne is called acne congoblata and this is characterized by heavy inflammation and deep abscesses which can often lead to skin damage including scarring, leading to the all too common problem of how to get rid of acne scars. Inflamed and often painful nodules form around the acne spots and will often grow until they discharge pus without warning. This form of acne can often result in keloid-type scarring.
Acne fulminans is another form of acne where nodules can ulcerate, causing a painful and recurrent form of acne. Those suffering from acne fulminans can also occasionally run a fever and experience aching joints for which treatment with corticosteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is normally needed. Such drugs are however used to treat the symptoms of this form of acne and not the acne itself.
Continuing on up the scale some people will develop nodulocystic acne where unusual cysts (red bumps caused by severe inflammation) form and sometimes become so numerous and appear close enough together to make a relatively big area of inflammation. Nodulocystic acne can form tunnels below the surface of the skin which allow infection to spread quickly and easily. This type of acne is frequently treated with antibiotics and a commonly used drug treatment is isotretinoin, which many people will know as Accutane.
Lastly, we come to gram-negative folliculitis which appears when hair follicles are also infected. Bacteria growing at the base of the hair follicle cause the body to react by sending white blood cells to fight the bacterial infection and this can occasionally produce a deep eruption that needs specialist treatment. This type of acne is often resistant to antibiotics and indeed the condition can occasionally result from using antibiotics to treat other types of acne.
Despite the fact that it is extremely common, acne is far from being the simple condition which many of us have always thought it to be and it is often far from a simple case of purchasing a cream from the local drugstore to treat it. So, as soon as acne appears you need to pop in to see your doctor, or better still a dermatologist, and have the condition diagnosed so that you can select the appropriate proactive acne solution from the start.