Exploring the types and Root Causes of Acne

May 10, 2024

Acne is a skin condition that is particularly common during adolescence. About 95% of adolescents have this problem.  Even in adulthood, up to 54% of people have acne, which can last until middle age. But what exactly is acne, and why does it occur? Let’s examine the different types of acne and find out the causes of this troublesome skin condition.

What is Acne?

It is a common skin condition caused by clogged hair follicles under the skin that are filled with dead skin cells and sebum, an oil that keeps the skin hydrated. On your skin, acne breakouts can occur anywhere. The face and neck, shoulders, back, and chest are among the most frequently affected areas. This is because these are the body parts where the oil glands are the most prevalent.

Let us move further to explore various types of acne.

Types of Acne

You must know that acne is not just one thing. There are different types, each with its own characteristics and causes. It's vital to identify which type you have so you can treat it properly.

  1. Acne Vulgaris: This is the most common type of acne. It includes things like blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. So, if you're breaking out, chances are it's acne vulgaris. Here are two common types of Acne Vulgaris: 
  • Whiteheads: These are small, closed bumps that appear on the surface of your skin. They occur when a hair follicle becomes clogged with oil and dead skin cells and starts trapping bacteria beneath the skin.
  • Blackheads: Unlike whiteheads, blackheads are open bumps on the skin. They develop when the trapped oil and dead skin cells oxidize, giving them their characteristic dark colour.

  1. Comedonal acne: This type includes blackheads, bumpy skin, and small white bumps called milia. They are inflammatory skin lesions that are caused by an overabundance of sebum production, bacterial overgrowth, and hyperkeratinization.
  2. Cystic acne: Cysts are the most severe form of acne and appear as large, pus-filled lumps beneath the skin. They can be painful and may cause scarring if not treated promptly. Here are two types of cystic acne:
  • Papules: Papules are small, red bumps that may feel tender to the touch. They occur when the walls around the pores break down due to inflammation.
  • Pustules: Pustules are similar to papules but contain pus at their tips. They appear as white or yellow bumps on the skin's surface.
  1. Nodular acne: Another severe type with large, hard, deep pimples called nodules.  They are larger, solid, and painful lumps beneath the skin's surface. They develop when clogged pores become further irritated, leading to deep inflammation.
  2. Acne Rosacea: This type affects adults, typically after 30. It shows up on the face and can cause redness, pimples, and visible blood vessels. It's more common in women, but men can also be affected by it.
  3. Acne Mechanica: This type is caused by heat, pressure, or friction on the skin. It often happens on the body, especially in athletes who wear gear that traps heat and rubs against the skin. It can also occur on the face.
  4. Excoriated Acne: This happens when someone picks at their pimples excessively, causing wounds on their skin. 

It's important to understand the reasons behind your acne so that you can treat it correctly. So, let us explore the root causes of acne.

What are the Root Causes of Acne?

It can be really frustrating when you can see your skin being affected by the problem of acne but you are not able to find out the reason behind it. 

Acne has deeper reasons than just what you see on your skin. Here are some possible root causes that lead to acne:

  • Distressed Skin: Your skin has its own tiny world of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. When this community gets messed up by things like strong cleansers or antibiotics, bad bugs can take over and cause acne.

  • Hormonal Imbalances: Sometimes, glands in your skin produce too much oil because of hormones. This can happen due to conditions like PCOS, pregnancy, or just changes in your body.

  • Food Troubles: Certain foods might not sit well with your gut, leading to problems with digestion and your skin. If you're allergic or sensitive to certain foods, it could show up as acne.

  • Growth Hormones: During puberty, a hormone called IGF-1 spikes up. This hormone can make your skin produce more oil, especially if you eat lots of sugary or dairy foods.

  • Fatty Acid Balance: Your diet might have too much of one kind of fat compared to another. This could make your body inflamed and might be linked to acne. Omega-3 fats are good for your skin and might help with acne.

  • Too Much B12: Taking too much vitamin B12 can actually make acne worse for some people. It changes the balance of bacteria on your face, leading to more acne.

Keeping your skin happy involves more than just washing your face. It's also about what you eat, how your body works, and what you put on your skin.


Acne is a common skin condition that includes the formation of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, as well as other lesions. It occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, leading to inflammation and the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Factors such as excess oil production, hormonal changes, genetics, and diet can contribute to the development of acne. Understanding the types and root causes of acne is crucial for effectively managing and treating this condition. If you are also struggling with acne, you can focus on getting functional nutrition to achieve clearer and healthier skin.


  1. Understanding Acne and How to Treat it Naturally - Rupa Health


  1. Everything You Want to Know About Acne - Healthline


  1. Three Stages of Acne and Treatment - Verywell Health


  1. Acne Vulgaris - Examine


  1. Acne 101: Types, Causes, Treatments, Tips and More - Derm Collective


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