Condition > Active Acne

Types, Causes and Treatment for Acne

Causes Of Acne

Active acne is a very common skin problem and can infect the face, chest, shoulders and back. Acne often begins to form during your teenage years. While it generally resolves, acne can sometimes persist and be a major problem throughout your life.

Acne during puberty is a result of your skin’s response to hormonal changes. During puberty, your skin’s sebaceous glands produce excessive sebum (skin oil). The sebaceous gland openings to the skin’s surface frequently get blocked, forming whiteheads and blackheads. The fatty acids within these blocked oil glands become infected by bacteria living on the surface of your skin. This infection leads to skin inflammation, followed by pustules, and sometimes, painful cysts.

Acne is aggravated by stress, insufficient sleep, changes in hormone levels around the time of menses, a hot and humid environment, using incorrect occlusive sunblock or makeup, close-fitting clothing, and headgear.

Types of Acne

Each type of acne lesion requires a different treatment. Receiving prompt, correct treatment can reduce the risk of long-term skin complications, such as dark spots and scarring. Acne blemishes fall into two categories, depending on whether they cause inflammation of the surrounding skin.

Acne treatments available in Singapore | Ensoul Medical Clinic


Types of Non-inflammatory acne lesions 

Whiteheads and blackheads are the mildest forms  of noninflammatory acne lesions. They generally don’t cause pain, or swelling.

  • Whiteheads
    Known as comedones in medical parlance, whiteheads are small spots or bumps that are  visible as white or flesh-colored blemishes. These blemishes are usually characterized  by a white, round  center that is encircled by a red colored halo. Sometimes, a strand of hair  may emerge from the midst of a whitehead, creating the impression of being trapped inside the blemish. The skin surrounding a whitehead, is likely to appear to be stretched or wrinkled, particularly so, if the whitehead is large in size, or elevated. Fortunately, whiteheads generally do not lead to scarring of the skin.

  • Blackheads
    Blackheads are known as  open comedones, in medical terminology. These spots are small in size, black or dark-colored, and may appear as slightly elevated bumps. While the blackhead’s central portion  is darker than the remaining parts, the area surrounding the blackhead, has a normal tone. Contrary to popular belief, the discoloration in the blackhead is not due to trapped dirt. Actually, the blackhead is formed when the skin on the bump cracks opens, exposing the contents of the whitehead to air, causing them to darken due to oxidation.

Types of inflammatory acne blemishes

These are blemishes or lesions have an inflamed, swollen look, are red in color,  and warm to the touch. Cysts, nodules, papules, and pustules are different types of inflammatory acne.

Minor-to-mild forms

  • Papules
    Papules manifest in the form of small red bumps that are present beneath the skin’s surface. Papules do not have a visible center comprising of pus, like whiteheads do.  They also differ from blackheads, because the papules’ pores do not have a widened appearance. Acne papules are formed  by the rupture of comedones, followed by the dispersal of bacteria into the skin tissue, resulting in irritation.

  • Pustules (pimples)
    Pustules are bumps that are larger in size, and tender to the touch. They are characterized by a well-defined, circular center. The center usually has pus that is whitish or yellowish in color that is caused by an infected pore cavity. Acne pustules acne are generally hard and painful to the touch. The skin adjoining the bump is likely to  have a red and inflamed look.

Moderate-to-severe forms

  • Nodules
    Nodules acne is a chronic version of acne, with large, inflamed, hard, and painful  lumps firmly ensconced within the skin. They are similar to larger, deeper papules and also have no visible head or center. These acne lesions form when the deeper tissues and cells underlying the skin, are damaged by clogged pores. The lesions can result in dark spots, scarring, and similar complications of the skin.

  • Cysts
    Acne cysts are definitely the most serious type of acne. They are usually distinguished by pus-filled lumps that are red or white in color. These lumps, located deep within the skin, are generally very large in size, soft to the touch, and painful. When a cyst bursts open, the infection can spread further, resulting in more breakouts on  the skin. If left untreated, cysts can lead to scarring and other skin complications.


Frequently Asked Questions on Acne Treatment

Q: What acne treatments are the best for me?

A: There are more than one type of acne treatments, to determine the suitable treatments for you, the doctor will have to carefully assess your skin type, severity of the acne and other factors in order to advise. The treatment can be a combination of topical cream, oral medications paired with energy devices or standalone. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Q: Will my acne go away?

A: Oftentimes, acne will go away on its own after puberty has ended. However, there are some people who will continue to struggle with acne in adulthood. But the good news is that all acne can be successfully treated, it is about finding the suitable treatment as well as having a proper skin care regime. It is also important to take care of your acne conditions early to prevent future scarring in the future which can be difficult and more expensive to treat.

Q: How can I better care for my skin to keep acne away?

A: There are multiple ways you can keep your skin healthy - such as using a gentle facial cleanser, avoid over exfoliating your skin, for women - select makeup that does not clog the pores or change your makeup if it is causing you to have blemishes as well as exercise. Exercising can help to promote skin cell health as it increases the blood flow. The increase in blood flow can provide both oxygen and nutrients to the cells and carries away waste products. By exercising, it can also alleviate stress which in turn keeps those stress levels down and helps your skin look radiant. 

Types of Acne
Dr Chiam CT

Acne Treatment Options in Singapore

Treatment for active acne should start early, untreated acne usually causes disfiguring skin scarring which may result in some acne sufferers developing emotional and social inadequacies.

Different types of acne lesion require different treatment approach. To avert further damage as quickly as possible, I use a multifactorial approach to treat active acne.

A combination of epidermal and dermal laser treatments, together with Intense Pulse Light (IPL) and phototherapy, with the concurrent application of topical medications such as chemical peels and medi-facials, can usually clear active acne and improve the scar appearance quite rapidly.