Acne treatment Acne treatment

Inflammatory Versus Noninflammatory Acne


Inflammatory acne is often characterized as moderate to severe acne. It's marked by some level of swelling within the active lesions. Noninflammatory acne is the mildest form of acne. As these lesions develop, the skin doesn't become inflamed. But regardless of type, all lesions begin the same. An obstruction forms within the opening of the hair follicle, clogging the pore and leading to acne.

Noninflammatory Acne

An active lesion develops when dead skin and excess oil build up to form a soft plug within the opening of a hair follicle, according to If the plug forms at the very surface of the skin, the pore remains open and develops into a blackhead. Plugs that take shape just under the surface can cause the pore to close, leading to what's known as a whitehead.

Inflammatory Acne

As plugs develop even farther under the skin, they can actually damage the follicular wall within the affected pore. Your body's immune system recognizes the damage and sends white blood cells to the site of injury. As white blood cells engorge the area, the lesion begins to swell, resulting in inflammatory acne.


Treatment is often dictated by the severity of acne. And since noninflammatory acne is the mildest form of acne, lesions often respond favorably to self-care measures. suggests washing your face twice a day, coupled with the use of over-the-counter acne creams, to help clear mild acne breakouts.

Prescription Medications

If you're suffering from moderate inflammatory acne, you can frequently improve your complexion with topical medications. Retinoids are most commonly prescribed for this purpose, but your dermatologist may instead recommend creams containing topical antibiotics or prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol and salicylic acid, according to MedlinePlus. These active ingredients help break down the soft plugs within the pores, which relieves inflammation and improves the acne lesions.


Severe inflammatory acne, which causes nodules and cysts to form under the surface of the skin, isn't as well treated with topical medications alone. Doctors must first relieve the acute swelling associated with this form of acne by injecting corticosteroids directly into the active lesion, explains the American Academy of Dermatology. Once swelling subsides, topical or oral retinoids can help to break up the obstruction and improve the appearance of your skin.

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