Face Acne Symptoms and Treatments

Face acne is difficult to ignore and hard to hide. The face is an extremely common place to develop whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, and nodules, and face acne affects more than 50 million Americans each year. When it comes to this location, our tendency is to seek out fast-acting spot treatments, cover the bumps with makeup, or pick at the lesions. Unfortunately, none of these options provides the quick fix or long-term results most people want.

Most face acne will clear up on its own or with an over-the-counter treatment. That said, even the occasional pimple can severely interfere with a person’s confidence and sense of self. Whether your facial acne is chronic or sporadic, visiting the dermatologist can provide the relief an over-the-counter spot treatment cannot. The skin care professionals at Zel Skin & Laser Specialists are equipped to assess your lesions and recommend a personalized treatment plan, clearing your face acne and helping to prevent future breakouts.


Common Types of Face Acne

The face is a very common surface for acne to develop. In fact, almost all people who experience some form of acne develop the condition on the face, in addition to the chest, shoulders, and back. But while this is a nearly universal experience, some types of face acne can be more painful, noticeable, and chronic than others. Knowing the cause of your breakout is a great first step toward getting the treatment you need. Read through the following types of acne on the face to start the process of figuring out what is causing your acne.

  • Acne Vulgaris: While acne vulgaris can appear anywhere on the body that grows hair, this is the most common type of acne that appears on the face. Also known as hormonal acne, acne vulgaris appears when a hair follicle becomes inflamed, most often as a result of sebum, or oil, overproduction. This inflammation often looks like a series of bumps, which can range in color, size, shape, and pain level. Acne vulgaris is often cured with over-the-counter treatment, but you should seek a professional’s help if the bumps are painful, severe, or appear to be infected.
  • Acne Mechanica: This type of acne is caused by friction, either between skin or from tight- or ill-fitting clothing. This can happen at any time or anywhere on the body, but it most commonly occurs while exercising or during seasonal clothing changes. Most of the patients we treat for acne mechanica on the face are athletes who wear helmets and headbands, but hats are also a common cause of this type of acne.
  • Acne Rosacea: Acne rosacea, which is commonly referred to as “adult acne,” commonly develops on the face. This condition appears as red, swollen bumps. Rather than having a specific trigger, they almost always flare up in cycles. These bumps appear when blood vessels just under the skin become enlarged, which means this condition is not caused by the typical external factors. If you suspect you have this condition, visit your dermatologist. There is no known cure for acne rosacea, but a doctor can prescribe a treatment plan that significantly relieves the often-painful symptoms.

If you are unsure which cause best describes your condition, it may be helpful to review common acne symptoms. This can help you determine the best type of acne treatment for your skin.


Rare Facial Acne Conditions

While acne vulgaris, acne mechanica, and acne rosacea are the most common forms of acne on the face, there are several more severe types of facial acne. While these conditions are far rarer, they almost always require professional treatment.

  • Acne Fulminans: This condition can be very serious. If your severe face acne is accompanied by fever and joint aches, you may have acne fulminans. The condition appears suddenly and is characterized by ulcerative and nodular lesions. These bumps are very painful, crusted, and hemorrhagic. Acne fulminans most often affects young men who have a history of acne, and it can be confused with acne conglobata, which is a separate condition. Only an experienced dermatologist, like those who provide care at our Minneapolis-area clinics, can make a diagnosis and prescribe a treatment plan.
  • Pyoderma Faciale: Most common among adult women, this unusual but serious condition often resembles severe acne rosacea. The lesions associated with pyoderma faciale look like large, red nodules and pustules that can be very painful to touch. Typically showing on the chin, cheeks, and forehead, these lesions often appear abruptly but disappear within a year. Visiting a dermatologist can significantly reduce symptoms of this condition, as they can prescribe antibiotics, isotretinoin, or steroids, which are the most effective treatments.

If you suspect you have either of the above forms of acne, seek professional face acne treatment. A medical professional can help mitigate symptoms while treating the lesions, reducing pain, and eventually clearing the skin.


Preparing for Your Dermatology Visit

While making a dermatology visit is always a good idea, it helps to enter the doctor’s office with certain information about your condition. In the days and weeks leading up to your visit, pay attention to several characteristics of your face acne. Before coming in, think about the following questions.

  • Is the acne painful?
  • Does the acne break out in the same spot, or does it appear at random?
  • Are the breakouts sporadic, appearing every few weeks, or chronic?
  • Do the breakouts appear as single pimples or as clusters?

This information can be very helpful to our staff, as it will allow us to provide better treatment recommendations. That said, don’t worry if you don’t have the answers to all these questions. We can talk through your experience with face acne to learn more about your condition.

When to See the Dermatologist for Face Acne

Face acne is the most noticeable form of the condition. Without proper treatment, it can be painful, unsightly, and even embarrassing, whether you are a teenager or an adult with acne. Medical professionals can prescribe a facial acne treatment to work with your skin while minimizing scarring and other side effects. If you’re ready to start a face acne treatment, visit one of our Minneapolis-area offices. Contact us to schedule an appointment or virtual visit today.