Inflammatory Acne – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Options

Inflammatory Acne

Overview of Acne

Everybody at one point of time or other would have faced the problem of Acne also known as a pimple. It’s a very common skin condition occurring especially in teens, even though it can occur in adults as well. Various factors contribute to the formation of Acne. The four main causes are:

  • Excess oil production
  • Increased hormonal levels, especially Androgen.
  • Diet Imbalance
  • Bacteria.

Acne appears on the skin when the hair follicle is blocked by oil and dead skin cells. Every follicle on the skin contains sebaceous gland and a strand of hair. The sebaceous glands main function is to produce just enough oil to keep your skin lubricated and soft. However owing to reasons mentioned above, when oil gland produces excess oil, the oil will be pushed out through the follicles. This excess oil may start coagulating with dead cells or bacteria plugging the follicle forming acne.

Acne can appear anywhere on the skin, where oil is produced in excess. Depending on various factors, Acne can be broadly classified as non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne. The commonly occurring white heads and black head are the non-inflammatory types. While, Pimple, nodes, and cysts are the inflammatory types.

What is Inflammatory Acne?

Inflammatory acne is caused due to clogged pores infected with bacteria. To clear this clog and to fight off bacterial infection, the body starts producing more red and white cells. This will result in redness or inflammation on the skin.

Inflammatory acne is hard to clear off at one go. One will have to visit a dermatologist if over-the-counter drugs do not help in clearing off the acne within 10 -12 days.

What are the Different Types of Inflammatory Acne?

Inflammatory Acne

The inflammatory acne can be really mild which will clear off within a day with OCT drugs or can be more severe which will warrant a visit to the dermatologist. Based on the severity, inflammatory acne can be classified into 4 types


These appear as red blemishes or lumps on the skin. Papules are formed when the walls surrounding the clogged pore are broken down due to inflammation. It usually does not contain pus. They can appear anywhere on the body.


These are red lumps containing pus. They have white or yellow heads. The whiteheads are a result of excess oil, dead cells, and bacteria. White cells produced by the body fight against this infection and tries to drive out the clog. It is this process of excretion that results in the formation of pus. Hence the name Pustules.


Nodules are formed when the pores grow larger. These are formed underneath the skin and hard to drive away. They are also slightly painful if touched. The area surrounding the nodule can also be easily infected if one tries to break this at home. This is because if not treated properly, the infection causing agents can spill into nearby areas, increasing the infection than breaking it. Hence it becomes necessary to visit a dermatologist than treating this at home or OTC drugs.


They are the scaled-up version of Nodules. These are the largest form of inflammatory acne and results from severe infection. These are very painful to touch and can cause a lot of problem for the person. While it can be cured, the area is often marked with an ugly scar. Hence like in the case of Nodules a visit to the dermatologist is a must.

What Causes of Inflammatory Acne?

Inflammatory acne as mentioned above is caused by the clogged pores and bacteria. But what are the main reasons for the clogged pores?

  • Fluctuating hormonal levels.
  • Breaking the pimples
  • Improper diet

Wearing clothing that does not allow your skin to breathe.

  • Not cleaning the skin often
  • Commuting in dusty areas
  • Increased stress levels

Symptoms of Inflammatory Acne

How can one realize if the acne is inflammatory or non-inflammatory? Inflammatory acne is surrounded by red lumps or blemishes. And as often is the case, inflammatory acne is filled with pus. Often the inflammatory acne is hard and painful to touch depending upon the severity of the infection.

What Treatment Options are Available?

Inflammatory Acne can be treated at home with over the counter drugs if the infection is not severe. The commonly used drugs to treat this type of acne are

Benzoyl Peroxide: This is commonly available over the counter drug which helps in reducing the pustules and papules. It is anti-inflammatory and acts as an anti-bacterial as well.

Antibiotics: Antibiotics are the next step in the treatment and are used to treat nodules and cysts. They are taken orally or can be applied on the skin like an ointment. Though it is effective in the treatment, they are not without side effects. So one needs to take antibiotics under the advice of the dermatologist.

Hormonal Therapy: This is the preferred way of treatment, where the body produces excess androgen. So to combat it various other hormones are injected into the body in mild proportions so that the hormonal cycle is not affected altogether.

Home Remedies and Prevention

There are various recommended home remedies for treating acne. But one should always know to exercise caution while trying the same to avoid aggravating the problem. Few commonly known Home remedies are:

Applying Apple cider vinegar on the infected area helps as it is said to posse anti-bacterial and anti-inflammation properties

  • Consuming zinc supplement
  • Applying the honey and Cinnamon mask
  • Apply a hot water mask to reduce the inflammation
  • Use the scrub mask to remove dead skills from the body
  • But as the saying goes – Prevention is better than cure. So how can one prevent inflammatory acne?
  • Choose acne formulated cleaners containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
  • Clean and exfoliated the body using scrubs regularly.
  • Use moistures and creams with less oil content
  • Know the type of your skin, before selecting cosmetics
  • Exercise regularly to keep the hormones in balance
  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Keep stress at bay.

A Word from Very well

Non-inflammatory acne is stepping stones to inflammatory acne. Do not aggravate your problem by trying to break them. Instead, try to contain them by either home remedies that work for you or by using over the counter medications.

But the best advice that’s out there to be followed is, always value the expert advice to save your health, time, and money.


Hugh Donoghue
Explorer. Coffee guru. Future teen idol. Internet junkie. General analyst. Beer buff. Hipster-friendly communicator.

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