We love talking about acne. And we get to do that with people everyday on YoDerm with mostly well-informed people. But through hundreds of these conversations I’ve noticed a couple of patterns of misinformation. I figured that I would share these so you can speak about your skin with more confidence and understanding.
#1 Whiteheads aren’t pimples
Many people describe their pimples as “whiteheads”, when whiteheads are actually very different blemishes. I understand how this misnomer occurs: many times pimples are capped with a white/green “scab” like the one in the image below.
However, this is a pustule or pimple, not a whitehead!
Whiteheads are called close comedones. These occur when the pore opening becomes entirely blocked with dead skin cells and oil. Whiteheads usually have little redness, if any. They appear as small raised bumps on your skin, like the image below.
In the lifecycle of acne, pimples occur after a comedone worsens and becomes inflamed. Some people have very few comedones turn into pimples. Others have many pimples. it varies from person to person.
#2: Are You Sure Your Acne is Cystic?
A cyst is closed capsule within the body filled with bodily fluid; in the case of acne: pus. Cystic acne, which is technically called nodulocystic acne, is the most severe form of acne vulgaris. The blemishes are deep and painful, with intense inflammation and redness. These blemishes take months to go away naturally and many times result in scarring. Below is a picture of cystic acne.
It is possible for individuals to get single acne nodules and cysts. However, this is not categorized as chronic cystic acne. Through my experience, most individuals who claim they have cystic acne, actually have inflammatory acne or a large single pimple. An older study from Harvard also showed that less than 1% of the population suffers from cystic acne.
This is important because if you indeed do have nodulocystic acne, it is imperative that you visit a dermatologist who will prescribe you medication. Without treatment, nodulocystic acne is very likely to cause permanent and severe scarring. Which leads to the last misconception…
#3: Waiting Out Acne
Many people believe that acne only occurs in adolescence. They believe that if they wait it out, it will go away on it’s own, leaving healthy, normal skin. Sadly, this is only true for some.
We see many patients who have struggled with acne for decades. They began breaking out in high school and still treat their acne now that they are in their late 30’s. So your acne may be sticking around for a while. Also, if you don’t treat your acne early on, it can lead to permanent scarring.
The takeaway: get treatment now to remove your risk of scarring because it might not just go away with time.
If you know of any other areas you’d like us to address or think we could clarify something, let us know in the comments!