This page contains information about the causes and types of acne.
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Acne is a skin condition that can cause self-consciousness and frustration for many.

Those living with acne understand the negative impact it can cause in their everyday lives. Not only can acne cause low self-esteem, it can also be a frustrating condition that can be hard to eliminate if not addressed with the right treatments. Left untreated, acne can leave lifelong reminders in the form of acne scars. The best way to treat acne scars is to prevent them in the first place.

“I developed terrible acne with my pregnancy, and it got even worse after I had the baby. Since I was breastfeeding I couldn’t use traditional acne treatments (Retin A, Accutane) so I sought out laser treatment…The team at Reflections worked with me to help clear up my skin, and so far I have been very pleased with the results… my skin is starting to look like it used to!”
Melissa R. from Maplewood, NJ on Yelp

What Is Acne?

Acne is a skin condition causing spots and pimples to appear on the face and body. It is the most common skin condition in the U.S., with more than 50 million people affected every year. There are many types of acne, which include:


When hair follicles get clogged with dead skin cells and/or excess oil (sebum), bacteria can be trapped below the skin’s surface. Your body’s natural response to bacteria is to send in white blood cells to fight the bacteria. These white blood cells are often referred to as pus. The pimple will become inflamed as your white blood cells battle the bacteria and push the bacteria towards the surface, trying to expel it from your body. This is what forms the white “heads” of this type of pimple, or comedone. Squeezing or popping these types of pimples may feel good because it releases the built-up pressure and helps to remove some of the bacteria so the pimple can clear faster, but this can lead to acne scarring.


Blackheads are another type of comedone, or clogged hair follicle. They aren’t typically inflamed, but stem from the same causes as whiteheads. Dead skin, dirt, oil, and other debris get caught in the hair follicle. As this debris oxidizes, it turns black. These are most commonly seen on the nose, but can appear on pretty much any part of the body or face, including the cheeks, chin, forehead, and ears, too. There are all kinds of pore strips and washes claiming to clear these small black dots away, but most of these products only remove the very top of the debris in the blackhead because they fail to first open up the top of the follicle opening, so the larger bottom portion of the blackhead isn’t removed.


Papules occur when white blood cells attacking the bacteria in a whitehead fail to expel the bacteria through an opening in the skin. Instead, the bacteria leaks out in the surrounding tissues. You’ll see a small to medium sized bump that’s inflamed, but no clear “head” of these pimples. You shouldn’t try to pop them, as that will only spread the infection further.


Pustules are the bigger, more inflamed versions of papules. The difference is that these pimples are full of pus, in addition to bacteria having escaped the confines of the follicle’s walls.

Severe Acne: Nodules, Cysts, and Acne Conglobata

If you’ve got very large, inflamed pimples that last for months, you’ve got the most severe type of acne, cystic acne. This type of acne is almost impossible to clear on your own, and leaves the worst scarring. You’ll want to pair with a doctor with extensive acne-clearing experience to manage your acne and minimize the damage. Our physicians are particularly sensitive to the emotional trauma of this type of acne, as well as the scarring it can leave behind. So we work quickly to get skin cleared up.


What Causes acne? How Can I Prevent Acne?

Acne can be caused by many factors, including certain medications, cosmetics, and skin care products with small enough particles to clog pores, hormonal changes including pregnancy, menopause and menstruation, and emotional stress. However, an underlying cause for most acne is a rise in androgen levels, which is a type of hormone. High androgen levels can cause the oil glands in the skin to grow, producing more sebum, and in turn, cause bacteria to be trapped within the pores and fester.
Many of these causes can be avoided or treated, to help reduce your acne flares.

Avoid Comedogenic (Pore-Clogging) Skin Care and Cosmetics

Most people will develop at least mild acne if they use products that clog their pores. You should use non-comedgonic (non-pore-clogging) skin care and cosmetics to avoid this cause of acne.

Exfoliate Regularly

Exfoliation is a key to removing dead skin cells, a key contributor to clogged pores and pimples. Where most people go wrong with exfoliation is that they choose overly harsh products that strip away the natural oils of the skin. Your skin needs some oil to function, so if you remove all of its natural oils, it will step up sebum (oil) production, creating more problems than your skincare routine can solve. Look for a gentle chemical exfoliant (physical exfoliants like scrubs can damage the skin, creating micro-tears and irritation that can cause more acne, not to mention other problems).

If you have questions about skin care routines or products, we highly encourage you to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our physicians who can create a customized system for keeping your skin clean and clear. Simply call (732) 356-1666 to schedule.

Why Do Dermatologists Sometimes Fail to Treat Acne Effectively?

Dermatologists typically have limited resources available to them to treat acne. They generally lack access to lasers and lights, as well as other technologies, that are known to be incredibly effective in treating acne. At Reflections, we offer a large array of acne treatment options to help create a personalized treatment plan that will work for you. Our dedicated cosmetic physicians will take the time to understand all of the underlying causes of your acne, and help you at every step along the way to clear skin. Treatments often combine FDA cleared laser therapy like Sebacia with topical or oral medicines, prescribed by the physicians at Reflections. We believe our dedication and deep interest in treating acne at all of its sources is why we are able to get fast and effective results, even for patients who have tried everything their Dermatologist has recommended and prescribed.

Why Trust Reflections to Treat Your Acne?

At Reflections, our board-certified physicians focus on using combination therapies to get acne under control fast and prevent future breakouts. We always take the time to create individualized treatment plans to meet your lifestyle for the very best results.

To get started on your journey to be acne-free, schedule a free consultation today by calling (732) 356-1666, or visit our acne treatments page to learn more about treatment options.

Medical Director at Reflections Center

Dr. Mitchell Chasin founded Reflections Center for skin & body as a place where physicians specializing in cosmetic medicine could focus on helping empower patients to feel their most beautiful. Dr. Chasin believes strongly that the best cosmetic physicians are those who are dedicated to mastering their craft through continuing education and collaboration with the industry’s top doctors.