Skin Eruptions: Is it a Pimple, Pustule, Carbuncle or Cyst?
What is Eczema?
By Christine Haran
Practically everyone has a story about an unwelcome pimple that managed to rear its ugly head on a day that involved a job interview, class photo or date.
One possible reason for the poor timing of breakouts is that acne can be caused by stress. And although we may be tempted to blame these eruptions on the chocolate bar or greasy hamburger eaten the night before, there's little scientific evidence to back up this old wives' tale or many of the other myths about acne.
It's well established, however, that teenagers are particularly unlucky when it comes to acne. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, nearly 100 percent of teenagers have pimples now and then, and 40 percent of teens have acne that is severe enough to require treatment. But it's not just a problem for adolescents: Acne can continue to be an issue into the 20s and 30s—and sometimes people get acne for the first time as adults.
Below, Diane Berson, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City, discusses what causes acne and how to treat it.
What is acne?
Acne can appear a lot of different ways. Usually it consists of blackheads and whiteheads, which we commonly refer to respectively as open comedones and closed comedones. It can also consist of papules, which are pink pimples, and pustules, which are white, pus-filled pimples, and sometimes more painful and larger nodules and sebaceous cysts. Carbuncles are infected cysts.
Are the characteristics of acne different in adulthood?
Usually it's the non-inflammatory, or blackhead and whitehead lesions, that start to come out during adolescence, when kids start getting oily in their T zones: their forehead, nose and chin. As people get a little older and the acne becomes more severe, they develop more inflammatory lesions that involve redness and swelling.
Adults, especially adult females, tend to have more acne breakouts on the lower half of the face, such as the cheeks, the jaw line, the chin and the neck. No one knows exactly why those are the areas that tend to break out more, but with adult women it's assumed that those areas might be more sensitive to hormones.
Where else on the body can acne appear?
Adolescents start out with acne in the T zone, and then get more inflammed acne that can migrate down to the chest and back and sometimes the buttocks. It might mean that there are excess hormones being produced in these areas, but we don't exactly know why acne follows this pattern.
What are risk factors for acne?
It's assumed that genetics and hormones play a role in starting acne. Other factors that might contribute to flares of acne include stress and certain skincare products that clog the pores.
wow!!! This article just answered all of the questions that I have been having for the past few weeks!!! I have had a nodule on my chin for about three weeks. I was just asking my mom today if she thought I should go to the doctor, because I thought that it might be a cyst. However, I didn't know for sure if cysts can form on your face. I guess it might need to be removed...ouch! Sorry for all the gross info!!!