Different Types Of Pimples And Acne : Explained

Acne is a common skin condition that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. While it's often associated with awkward teenage years, it can persist into adulthood and manifest in various forms. Understanding the different types of acne is essential for effective management and treatment.

From pesky whiteheads and blackheads to more severe cystic acne, each type has its characteristics and unique challenges. Whether you're dealing with occasional breakouts or chronic acne concerns, this guide will help you navigate the path toward clearer, blemish-free skin.

What are the different types of acne scars?

Acne scars are permanent marks or blemishes on the skin that result from the healing process of acne lesions. Acne scars can vary in size, shape, and depth, and their appearance may be influenced by several factors, including genetics, the severity of the acne, and the type of skin. They can be emotionally distressing for some individuals and may even affect self-esteem.

The main types of acne scars include:

  • Icepick Scars: These are deep, narrow, and have a V-shaped appearance, resembling small puncture marks on the skin.
  • Boxcar Scars: Characterized by wider and more well-defined edges, these scars are known for their box-like appearance.
  • Rolling Scars: Rolling scars are broad, shallow depressions with a wavy or undulating surface.
  • Hypertrophic Scars: These scars are raised and appear thicker than the surrounding skin. They result from an overproduction of collagen during the healing process.
  • Keloid Scars: Keloids are raised, thickened scars that extend beyond the boundaries of the original acne lesion. They result from an excessive production of collagen and can be larger and more noticeable than the initial acne blemish.
  • Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH): While not true scars, PIH occurs when the skin's melanin production increases in response to inflammation, leaving behind darkened or discolored areas after an acne lesion has healed. PIH can affect individuals with all skin types, especially those with darker skin.
  • Erythematous Scars: These are red or pink marks left behind after acne has healed. They result from blood vessel dilation and inflammation during the acne's active phase. Erythematous scars may fade over time but can persist for an extended period.
  • Mixed Scars: In some cases, acne scars can have characteristics of more than one type mentioned above, making them challenging to categorize into a single category.

Though the type of acne scars a person develops can depend on various factors, there are effective treatments available. These include procedures like laser therapy, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, dermal fillers, and topical treatments.

What is the difference between a cyst and a zit?

Cysts and zits (pimples or acne) are both types of skin blemishes, but they have distinct differences in terms of their appearance, causes, and how they should be managed:

Cysts are larger, pus-filled lumps that are often deep beneath the skin's surface. They are typically round or oval-shaped and have a firm, raised appearance. Cysts can be red and swollen and may or may not have a visible "head" or pustule.

Generally, they result from a deeper infection within a hair follicle or oil gland. They are typically associated with more severe forms of acne, such as nodular or cystic acne. Cysts are caused by the accumulation of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria deep within the skin. They tend to be painful and tender to the touch due to their depth and inflammation.

Cysts usually require medical treatment, as they are difficult to treat effectively with over-the-counter products alone. Dermatologists may use procedures like drainage or corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Oral antibiotics or other prescription medications may also be prescribed to manage cystic acne.

Zits, also known as pimples or acne, are typically smaller, raised, and more superficial than cysts. They can appear as red or pink bumps on the skin's surface and often have a white or yellow "head" at the center, which contains pus. They are typically caused by the clogging of hair follicles with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria on the skin's surface, similar to cysts.

Zits can be tender or sore but are generally less painful than cysts due to their shallower location within the skin. They can also be treated with over-the-counter topical products that contain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or topical antibiotics. Proper skincare and hygiene practices can help prevent and manage zits.

how to remove pimples on your face: Steps to take

Popping a pimple should be done with caution, and it's generally best to avoid it if possible. Popping a pimple incorrectly can lead to infection, scarring, and worsening inflammation. However, if you decide to proceed, here are some steps to do it as safely as possible:

  1. Cleanliness: Initially prepare by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water to reduce the risk of introducing bacteria to the pimple.
  2. Disinfect: Sterilize a needle or pin with rubbing alcohol. This helps to reduce the risk of infection.
  3. Soften the Pimple: Apply a warm compress to the pimple for a few minutes. The heat can help soften the pimple and make it easier to extract.
  4. Use a Sterile Needle or Pin: Gently prick the pimple's surface with the sterilized needle or pin. Make a small hole at the center of the pimple.
  5. Drain the Pimple: Wrap clean tissue or cotton swabs around your fingertips to avoid direct contact with your skin. Gently apply even pressure around the pimple, starting from the sides and pushing toward the center. Avoid squeezing too aggressively, as this can cause damage to the surrounding skin.
  6. Cleanse Afterward: Once the pimple has been drained, clean the area with mild soap and water or an alcohol-free, salicylic acid-based acne treatment.
  7. Apply an Antibiotic Ointment: To prevent infection, apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to the popped pimple.
  8. Don't Pick or Touch Further: Avoid touching the pimple or picking at it after it's been popped. Allow it to heal naturally.
  9. Apply a Bandage: If necessary, cover the area with a sterile bandage to keep it clean and prevent further contamination.

Popping a pimple is generally not recommended, especially if it's not done correctly. It's best to let pimples heal on their own or seek professional help from a dermatologist if you have concerns about acne. Consistent and proper skin care routines, including regular cleansing and the use of acne-fighting products, can help prevent pimples and reduce the need to pop them.

how to remove pimples on your face for clear skin

How to properly heal pimples and acne scars?

Properly healing pimple scars, also known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) or post-acne scars, requires patience and consistent care. The approach to treating and fading these scars depends on their type, severity, and skin type. Here are some steps you can take to address and heal pimple scars:

Protect Your Skin from the Sun: Sun exposure can darken and worsen scars. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher daily, even on cloudy days, to protect your skin from UV damage.

Topical Products: These include formulas with active ingredients such as Vitamin C, retinoids, and hydroquinone. Vitamin C can help fade hyperpigmentation and improve overall skin tone while over-the-counter or prescription retinoid creams help collagen within the skin. In some cases, hydroquinone creams may be recommended by a dermatologist to lighten dark spots.

Topical retinoids are great, particularly for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, alongside a range of other disorders,” Dr. Sina Ghadiri, a dermatologist based in the United Kingdom and co-founder of Topiskin, contributes. “They increase cell turnover and help disperse the melanin in the skin.”
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Exfoliation: Gentle exfoliation with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) can help remove dead skin cells and promote skin renewal. Avoid abrasive scrubs, as they can further irritate scars.

Silicone Gel Sheets or Creams: Silicone products can help flatten and soften scars when used consistently. They are available over-the-counter in the form of sheets or gels.

Professional Treatments: Skincare professionals can provide more advanced treatments like chemical peels, laser therapy, or dermal fillers. These procedures can also be tailored to your specific scar type and are even available from the comfort of your home.

Avoid Picking or Squeezing: Avoid further trauma to your skin by resisting the urge to pick, squeeze, or scratch at scars or active pimples. This can worsen scarring and hyperpigmentation.

Diet and Lifestyle: A healthy diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals can support skin health. Stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and manage stress, as these factors can influence skin condition.

Not all scars will completely disappear, but with consistent care and the right approach, you can significantly improve their appearance. If your scars are deep, widespread, or causing you distress, a professional can provide a personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs.

What is the best skincare routine for acne scarring?

A skincare routine for acne scarring should focus on promoting skin healing, reducing inflammation, and improving the overall appearance of scars. Results can vary from person to person, and it may take time to see significant improvement. Here's our recommended skincare routine for acne scarring:

  1. Cleanser: Start with a gentle cleanser to remove impurities and excess oil without over-drying your skin. Look for a cleanser containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or lactic acid, which can help with exfoliation. Cleanser: Cica Redness Relief Nourishing Cleanser 

  2. Vitamin C Serum: Apply a vitamin C serum to help brighten the skin and fade hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C can also provide antioxidant protection against further damage.
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  3. Sunscreen: Sun protection is crucial because UV rays can worsen scarring and hyperpigmentation. Reapply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher throughout the day if needed.


  1. Cleanser: Use the same gentle cleanser you used in the morning to cleanse your face before bedtime.

  2. Exfoliation: 2-3 times a week, use an exfoliating product containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). These can help with cell turnover and improve the texture of your skin. Be cautious not to over-exfoliate, as it can irritate your skin.

  3. Treatment: Apply a scar-fading treatment containing ingredients like niacinamide, licorice root extract, or alpha arbutin.
    Ghadiri adds, “Niacinamide, or Vitamin B3, helps suppress the transfer of melanin to the top layer of the skin and the cells [located] there. This helps to brighten the skin and help target dark spots.”Additionally, he suggests, “Arbutin is a naturally-occurring derivative of a lightening agent called hydroquinone. It inhibits an enzyme called tyrosinase, a crucial enzyme in the synthesis of melanin. It helps to dampen down melanin by influencing the interactions between keratinocytes and melanocytes, the [latter being] pigment-producing cells.” Recommended: Caffeine Cooling Eye Serum Stick

  4. Moisturizer: Use a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or ceramides.
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  5. Spot Treatment: If you have active breakouts, use a spot treatment with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to target individual pimples.
    Ghadiri highlights the use of our “high-performance combination” formula by noting it “helps to target dark spots.” He adds, “It can be used twice a day by applying a few drops of serum onto your palm and massaging it gently onto the face.” He recommends following through your routine with your preferred moisturizer and/or sunscreen if fulfilling your AM routine.
    Spot Treatment Serum :Dark Spot Correcting N.A.T. Serum 

Weekly Treatments:

Face Masks: Use a face mask containing ingredients like clay, sulfur, or charcoal once a week to help control excess oil and detoxify the skin.
Recommended: Pro-Firming Matrixyl® 3000 + Dynalift™ Night Mask

Sheet Masks: Consider using hydrating sheet masks with ingredients like hyaluronic acid or aloe vera to soothe and hydrate your skin.

Additional Tips:

  • Consult a Professional: If your scarring is severe or not responding to over-the-counter treatments, consult a dermatologist. They can recommend prescription-strength treatments or in-office procedures.
  • Be Patient: Healing acne scars takes time. Consistency with your skincare routine and treatments is key to seeing improvement.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: A balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management can all contribute to healthier skin.


Definition of “skin-popping” scars?

"Skin-popping" is a term commonly used in the context of drug use, particularly illicit drug injection practices. It refers to the method of injecting drugs, typically substances like heroin or other opioids, directly under the skin (subcutaneously) rather than into a vein (intravenously). This practice is often associated with individuals who may have difficulty finding or accessing veins for intravenous drug use.

When someone "skin-pops" a drug, they use a needle to inject the substance just beneath the skin’s surface, usually in areas such as the arms or legs. This method can lead to a slower onset of the drug's effects compared to intravenous injection, as the drug must be absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream.

It’s crucial to note that skin-popping carries significant health risks, including:

  • Infection: Injecting drugs under the skin can introduce bacteria and contaminants, increasing the risk of localized infections, abscesses, or cellulitis.

  • Tissue Damage: Repeated skin-popping can cause damage to the skin and underlying tissues, potentially leading to scarring, necrosis (tissue death), and disfigurement.

  • Delayed Effects: The onset of the drug's effects is slower with skin-popping, making it easier for individuals to overdose unintentionally by taking more of the drug, thinking it hasn't worked.

  • Health Complications: Injecting drugs of unknown purity and quality can result in numerous health complications, including overdose, infectious diseases (such as HIV and hepatitis), and other medical problems.

Conclusion: how to deal with different types of pimples

Acne scars can have a significant impact on one's self-esteem and confidence, but understanding the different types of acne scars and how to treat them is the first step towards achieving smoother, more even-toned skin. Whether you're dealing with atrophic scars or raised scars, there are treatment options available, from topical products and exfoliation to professional treatments like laser therapy and microneedling.

The key to overcoming acne scars is consistency, patience, and seeking guidance from a skincare professional to create a treatment plan tailored to your specific scar type and skin needs. With the proper care, you can take positive steps toward healing and embracing your skin's natural beauty.