Everything You Need To Know About Inflammatory Acne - Causes AND Treatments

Last modified: Sunday, Jul 7, 2019

Daisy Marie Clay

Author: Daisy Marie Clay

If you are looking into inflammatory acne, then you will know how difficult it can be to find good information on the topic.

First of all, you need to know that there are two types of acne, also known as acne vulgaris.

  • Inflammatory Acne
  • Non-Inflammatory Acne

When it comes to inflammatory acne vs non inflammatory acne there’s an easy way to tell using the following rule of thumb...

If you have redness and swelling around your acne, then you have inflammatory acne.

There is also more than one type of inflammatory acne, and this is one of the reasons why it’s so difficult to get good information on this topic. It’s not simple, however in this article I’ll be breaking it down to the basics while keeping a scientific and fact-based approach as the focus while doing so.

Types Of Inflammatory Acne

There are many types of Inflammatory Acne. These can affect you anywhere on the body. It doesn’t just have to be the face.

  • General Inflammatory Acne
  • Nodular Cystic
  • Nodulocystic Acne

If you are suffering from a breakout, you may notice that you have papules or pustules… These are the most common forms of inflamed breakouts, and are visible as your typical red pimples and whiteheads.

Note: Not all whiteheads are inflammatory acne, as some whiteheads are actually caused by comedonal acne.

Meanwhile it is the nodules and cysts that are much deeper set in our skin, and these are the most likely to cause scarring.

Inflammatory Acne Causes

When it comes to acne and its pathogenesis, numerous studies have shown inflammation to play a large role. The role of inflammation in acne is both clear and unclear. This is to say that we’re learning more every year about it.

What we do know about inflammatory acne in particular, is that it all starts with a blocked pore. This is called a microcomedo, and at this stage it is microscopically small.

Eventually this blocked pore gets inflamed and develops into the pimples and spots on our skin that we call acne.

How does this happen?

A blocked pore can’t excrete oils and so as we produce more of our own natural oils, the pore continues to enlarge. This then becomes a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria which multiplies and further causes issues.

As the pore begins to break down under all this pressure, the bacteria-filled pores excrete into our skin. Our body then triggers an immune response, this sends white blood cells to the affected areas.

The result is redness, painful irritation and puffiness or swelling. You now have inflamed acne.

How To Treat Inflammatory Acne

With any skincare issue such as inflammatory acne treatment, there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all solution out there. Acne inflammation treatment has become a huge industry all within itself, and I know I personally have spent thousands trying to find a solution.

The right treatment really depends on the type of inflammatory acne you have.

If you have mild-moderate inflammatory acne that results in papules, pustules and various whiteheads I would say you can self-treat with the right approach.

I recommend checking out the better skin manifesto where I talk about a lot of what actually worked for me after spending thousands and being no better off.

Over the last couple of years I’ve also been testing new products regularly, and one that has actually worked for me is Niacinamide... I’ve reviewed and talked about it a LOT here on TameYourSkin. It’s anti-inflammatory and that’s why I recommend it so much, especially for this kind of acne.

You also need to prevent breakouts, and salicylic acid is great as it helps unclog pores. I also recommend Azelaic Acid which worked wonders for me, but I had to get this prescribed by my doctor.

You should use a good gentle moisturizer and a good toner that’s formulated specifically for acne.

Overall for beating this kind of acne you need to make some lifestyle adjustments and couple that with the right products. Products need to be there to supplement your lifestyle adjustments and not as magic wand as much as I wish that were true.

If you have cystic acne or any type of severe inflammatory acne such as acne nodules, I recommend heading to the GP. You need higher strength products and medicines that aren’t available OTC (Over The Counter).

Anti-Inflammatory Foods For Acne

If you’re looking to make some lifestyle choices then you can definitely do so by adopting a more anti-inflammatory diet for acne, which is good for much more than just acne anyway. SO it’s a good idea.

  • Tomatoes
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Olive Oil

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Cystic Acne The Same As Inflammatory Acne?

A lot of people throw around terms such as cystic acne vs inflammatory acne. It’s a silly thing to do as all cystic acne IS inflammatory acne. So yes they are the same, cystic acne is simply a form of inflammatory acne.