The six types of pimples and how to deal with each one

While most prefer to treat their acne with a specific cream – if you want to clear it up as fast as possible it’s important that you know what type of pimples it is.

Acne can be broken down into six different categories: whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, cysts and nodules.

FEMAIL reveals what each type looks like and the best way to treat them.

Types of pimples


Whiteheads, also known as a closed comedo, appear as a build-up of dead skin cells in a little package on top of the skin.

Dr Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, told US Cosmopolitan how whiteheads and blackheads differ.

With a blackhead, the oil is exposed to air and oxidizes (turning black when air hits it), whereas a whitehead has oil trapped from leaving the pore.

They are commonly found on oily skin, and while they aren’t sore or inflamed, they can easily be treated with chemical exfoliation and a dedicated skincare regime.


Blackheads, known in the medical world as open comedones, appear as black dots on the skin.

They are dark in colour as they are ‘open pimples’ and have come in contact with the outside world.

Associated with oily skin, they can often be found on the nose or around the ears.

Blackheads are best treated with a face wash containing salicylic, glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide, otherwise extractions by a skin specialist.


These appear as a raised bump on the skin and are red, swollen and inflamed.

Celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau previously told Byrdie that papules are the ‘stage past a whitehead where bacteria has caused inflammation, resulting in an infected blemish.’

Papules are best treated with a drying lotion or a spot treatment, with popular brands including Mario Badescu and Origins.


Pustules are a white zit that has formed an inflamed ball of pus on the skin.

Renée previously told Byrdie that ‘you must not touch these until you can see a whitehead.’

‘Then, you can carefully extract the infected pus and immediately dry it out with a spot treatment,’ she said.

Hold a warm wash cloth over the infected area before popping, and apply an after treatment to heal the skin.


These are red pimples with a white head on top, that lie deep within the skin.

They are painful due to the pores becoming blocked and leading to infection, and can cause scarring in the long-term.

‘Bacteria’s getting trapped inside the follicle and causing swelling as well as inflammation,’ New York-based dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum previously told Well and Good.

Treatment includes keeping the area as clean as possible and applying a chemical exfoliant.


Nodules appear as a hard bump deep within the skin, can be either red or match with your skintone, and could take weeks to go away.

Very Well Health explained how nodules are caused by several different factors.

The website revealed causes include ‘overactive oil glands, an abnormal buildup of dead cells within the pore and an overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria’.

This all provides ‘favourable conditions for breakouts to develop’.

Being one of the most severe forms of acne, they are ideally best treated with antibiotics or by consulting a dermatologist.

-daily mail

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