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Difference between Non Inflammatory and Inflammatory Acne

Inflammatory Acne

  • Acne breakouts – something we all experience because acne and hormones are directly related and, of course, we all have hormones
  • Thankfully, many acne skin care products are available to help us deal with this most common and most troublesome skin care issue




Acne is never a pleasant skin condition. Those whiteheads and blackheads always seem to pop up when you want them the least. On the bright side, treatment options are available now that can significantly speed up the healing of these outbreaks but to make those treatments work you need to know the difference between non inflammatory and inflammatory acne.

Formation of Acne

To understand the difference types of acne, you first need to understand how acne forms in the first place. Dead skin cells and other debris clog hair follicles and trap oil that is being produced within the skin. That build-up of oil continues to enlarge and bulges outward forming the visible signs of acne.

Non-Inflammatory Acne

Non-inflammatory acne is the most common type you’re likely to experience. Most people refer to these as whiteheads and blackheads. With blackheads, the hair follicle is open but the oil which is blocking the pore is visible and darkened thanks to its contact with the air. When the pore is closed off, the whitehead develops.

Inflammatory Acne

Whether you have facial or body acne, inflammatory acne can be a more significant problem. is normally caused by a response from the immune system to a perceived threat, such as a virus. With acne, this invader is often bacteria. The result of the inflammation is a red color, swelling, and elevated skin temperature in the inflamed area. Inflammatory acne comes in three different types of lesions.

When the lesion is closed similar to a whitehead but is inflamed, this is called a papule. Pustules, another type of inflammatory acne lesion, occur when the papule begins to rupture onto the surface of the skin. The visible part of the pustule is the dead white blood cells (pus) that have been fighting the infection. While pustules erupt towards the skin’s surface, nodules erupt below the skin surface.

Treatment of Acne

Non-inflammatory acne can be treated by using over-the-counter products. These products typically are designed to break down the oil which has built up in the follicle. Once the oil is dried up, the acne goes away on its own. Combining these treatments with a good skin care routine will help clear up outbreaks in a short time.

Inflammatory acne is more severe and usually requires stronger treatment, especially if the outbreaks are chronic. Because of the bacterial infection that is causing the inflammation, antibiotics are sometimes prescribed to help kill that infection which will ease up the inflammation. A type of drug known as a Tretinoin is sometimes given to patients. The drug can destroy the plug which is blocking the hair follicle. When the plus is destroyed, the oil can drain and the antibiotics can more effectively reach the site of the infection. Other topicals can be used with excellent results. Most of these contain benzoyl peroxide. This will assist in the cleansing and drying up process of the outbreak.

Regardless of the type of method used for treating acne, patients need to refrain from squeezing, scratching, or irritating the lesion more. These actions won’t improve the condition of the skin and can lead to more outbreaks. Plus, scarring is a likely result, especially for inflammatory acne.

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.

3 Responses to “Difference between Non Inflammatory and Inflammatory Acne”

  1. 1
    Xum Says:
    Hi, I have got extremely severe acne and it is inflammatory. its been more than an year.I have tried every single treatment and medicine but nothing is working. Got back to my G.P. last month and the treatment didnt work and showed any diffference in a month. So, now I have got bloodtests. Just wondering, he has given me ultrasound and whole lot of tests..just to check if its PCOS. so am really confused since then.Is there a chance it could be coz of PCOS...
  2. 2
    my2cents Says:
    you might want to try accutane if it is severe enough. just make sure you have a healthcare provider who can cover treatment because otherwise it will be very expensive. a dermotologist or physician are the only people who can prescribe the med so just make a trip and ask them about it.
  3. 3
    Michael Says:
    Does anyone know a really good acne treatment for acne that occurs on the back? For some reason my back has been breaking out in inflammatory acne and nothing seems to be helping. I've ruled out the usual things such as a change in washing powders and stuff like that.