Types of Blemishes

Recognising different types of blemishes

Breakouts can range from 1-2 nodules on an adult woman’s chin due to her menstrual cycle to a cluster of blackheads on a guy’s nose; a teen’s face full of red bumps and pustules to breakouts on an athlete’s chest and back. Recognising your breakouts is your first step toward freeing yourself from this burdensome problem.

Whiteheads & Blackheads

Whiteheads and blackheads are types of blemishes in which a plug, made up of sticky oil (sebum) and dead skin cells, is visible inside a pore and does not cause any associated inflammation or redness. Dermatologists call them “comedones.”  


If the plug enlarges and widens the pore, it’s called an open comedo, or a blackhead. Blackheads are not caused by trapped dirt, even though that’s what they look like, so you can’t wash them away. The black or grey color comes from a build up of melanin (the dark pigment of your skin) and oxidised oil.


A whitehead is a closed comedone. A thin covering of skin traps the plug beneath the pore’s surface, preventing the oil from oxidising, keeping it white and preventing it from turning gray. 


Pimples occur when your immune system responds to the bacteria and trapped oil inside the hair follicle.


These are small- to medium-sized pink or red dome-shaped bumps that often feel tender to the touch.


These lesions have a yellow or white centre with a red base. Pustules form when a plug deep inside a pore traps oil and bacteria, attracting white blood cells to fight the infection. The greater the inflammation, the redder and larger the pustule. Pus is simply the collection of dead white blood cells. 

Nodules and Cysts

Nodules are large, solid and often painful bumps that extend into the deeper skin layers. Cysts are sac-like structures filled with liquid material consisting of red and white blood cells, oil and bacteria. Individual lesions may last for months and produce permanent scars. Therefore, seeking treatment from a dermatologist is highly recommended.