The ABC’s of Acne: Causes and Prevention

By Lindsey Johnson
ABC’s of Acne

According to the Mayo Clinic, the definition of acne is “a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. It causes whiteheads, blackheads or pimples. Acne is most common among teenagers, though it affects people of all ages.” The Cleveland Clinic states that up to 80% of people ages 11 to 30 will experience at least a mild case of acne and most people will have it at some point in their lives. Let’s go over the ABC’s of acne so we are prepared at any age!



Comedonal acne refers to clogged pores that present as blackheads and whiteheads. Blackheads are open pores, and whiteheads are closed pores. Blackheads are dark because they contain an oxidized version of melanin, the dark pigment made in the skin.


Inflammatory acne refers to papules, pustules and nodules beneath the skin that become inflamed. These can lurk under the skin’s surface and be painful.


Cystic acne is the most severe type of acne. These blemishes also sit below the skin and contain pus. Cystic acne can progress to scarring.



Dr. Miranda Whitmer of Gainesville Dermatology and Skin Surgery recommends a good hygiene routine to help prevent breakouts. “A daily routine that includes a mild cleanser followed by a moisturizer is ideal. It’s important to include the moisturizer because dry skin can become inflamed and cause painful breakouts. If needed, use over the counter medicated solutions like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid on a regular basis to help prevent acne breakouts. Using non-comedogenic products is recommended because they do not clog pores.”


Nicole Coullias, Certified Medical Electrologist, Medical Esthetician, and Laser Technician at Paradise Skin and Body recommends some additional routine treatments to keep skin healthy and clear.

Coullias states “It is important to remember that your skin and results will need to be maintained. Have a good skincare regimen, maintain results with monthly treatments, and always consult your medical esthetician on best products and procedures to meet your skin care goals.”


Facials provide a deep cleanse, exfoliation and improved skin tone and texture. They are recommended every four to six weeks and can be combined with light chemical peels and microdermabrasion for optimal results.

Jordan Strack, Licensed Esthetician at Pure Aesthetics, LLC adds, “One of my favorite procedures for acneic skin is the HydraFacial. Unlike a traditional facial, the HydraFacial uses vortex technology to unclog pores while simultaneously infusing hyaluronic acid and peptides into the skin to hydrate and protect. The Hydrafacial allows for painless exfoliation and extractions of black heads in a comfortable and relaxing treatment.”


Chemical peels help to rapidly exfoliate the skin and kill bacteria. There are many types of peels. Light peels with little to no downtime all the way to heavier peels usually lasting between five and seven days. Both have optimal results when done in series.


Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive procedure used to improve and renew the skin’s overall tone and texture. This treatment is recommended every four to six weeks.


Laser Genesis is a zero downtime procedure used to treat and prevent acne. It effectively breaks up dirt, oil and bacteria. This treatment is also used to stimulate the regeneration of collagen for a smoother appearance.

If you or your child has questions about their acne, always consult a doctor prior to starting any new services, procedures or product regimes.


Dr. Whitmer advises anyone who thinks they have cystic acne to seek the advice of a professional.

“Cystic acne is the most severe and worrisome type of acne. It can lead to scarring on the skin. Cystic acne does not respond to topical treatments alone but rather requires a systemic intervention. Unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent cystic acne, but it can be treated with the help of a professional.”

If you have developed mild to moderate acne, you are not alone. Fortunately, there are many skin care products and regimens you can do to minimize breakouts. If your acne is severe, consult a professional for a more advanced treatment regimen. For all types of acne, resist the urge to pop and pick at pimples as this can lead to infection and skin scarring. Treat with over the counter products if applicable and be patient. It may take several weeks to see results but stay consistent with a healthy skin care routine, which includes always washing breakout-prone areas after sweating as well as removing makeup before bed.

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