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What is Acne? Explained – Prevention, Causes and Treatments

what is acne

Acne is something that most people are familiar with as it affects people of all ages. It is, however, most common in teenagers and it’s estimated that 80% of people ages 11 to 30 will have at least a mild form of acne. Despite it being so common, little is understood about these natural bodily occurrences.

What causes them? How do we prevent acne? Why do I have pimples at the back? What are some back acne treatments? Where can I find acne treatment in Singapore?

 Today, we unpack everything you need to know about acne­!

Acne – What is it?

type of acne singapore

From face to back acne, these little bumps can definitely cause distress to many of us. Although most of us would refer to them as pimples, there are actually various types of acne. 

Acne can be categorized into inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne. Both groups of acne can present themselves in many forms. Let’s find out what they are and talk about them in detail. 

Non-inflammatory Acne

Comedones are examples of non-inflammatory acne, and they can be further categorized into two types: Blackheads and whiteheads.

  • Blackheads are open comedones, and they are one of the most common types of acne. Blackheads appear when sebum and dead skin cells clog the pores. Despite being blocked, the top of the pores remain open, which results in the black appearance seen on its surface. Blackheads most commonly appear on the nose and chin. 
  • Whiteheads are closed comedones that also form when the pores get clogged by a combination of sebum and dead skin cells. The difference however, is that while the pores of blackheads remain open, these pores are closed. This is why they have a whitish appearance and look like small bumps protruding from the skin. 

Inflammatory Acne

  • Papules:
    Papules are small red bumps usually about less than five millimeters in diameter. Papules form when excess oil and skin cells clog the pores. The oil in these clogged pores then feed on bacteria that live on your skin, resulting in an inflamed lesion called papules. 
  • Pustules:
    Pustules are papules that are filled with white or yellow pus. They usually present themselves as white bumps surrounded by red skin. Pustules are most commonly found on the back, chest, and face, though they can develop on any part of the body. 
  • Fungal acne:
    Fungal acne is often confused with blackheads and whiteheads as they may appear as small pimples, but they are two very different conditions. Unlike the acne types we’ve mentioned which occur because of blocked pores by hair and skin cells, fungal acne is caused by an overgrowth of yeast. 
  • Nodules:
    Nodules are small bumps that grow underneath the skin, and occur when clogged pores are further irritated. As nodules are deep beneath the skin, they cannot be treated at home and require prescription medication to clear them up. 
  • Cysts:
    Like the acne types we’ve mentioned above, cystic acne also develops when sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cells clog the pores. However, cysts grow deep within the skin and are further below the surface than nodules. They often appear as red or white bumps that are painful to the touch. As cysts are also the largest form of acne, their growth usually results due to severe infection and are most likely to scar. 

Acne Causes

So what exactly causes these pesky little bumps that we are so eager to get rid of?

Well, every healthy skin produces a substance called the sebaceous, or oil, gland that produces and secretes sebum. The function of sebum is to help seal in moisture in our skin and prevent them from drying out. These sebum then escapes our skin through the pores in our hair follicles.

However, when sebum, hair, bacteria, and dead skin skills come together, it may cause a blockage in the pores, which then results in what we know all too well, acne.

Although there is no conclusive and definite answer for why some people are more prone to acne than others, studies have shown that there are several risk factors associated with developing acne. 

These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Hormonal changes due to puberty, pregnancy, or menstruation
  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Build up of stress
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Certain facial products with high oil content
  • Certain medications
  • A family history of acne
  • Certain foods or diet

tips for acne singapore

Acne Treatments

But here’s the good news– if you’re looking for face acne treatment in Singapore or even back acne treatment products, you’ve come to the right place. 

There are different treatment types depending on the severity of acne. Here, we break them down to treatment types for mild, moderate, and severe acne. 

1. Mild
Blackheads and whiteheads fall under mild acne, and they can be treated with topical creams, cleansers, and spot treatment. Topical creams include those that contain retinol, benzoyl peroxide, and azelaic and salicylic acid. 

You should also be mindful of the cleanser you use depending on your skin type. For instance, if you have naturally oily skin, it would be best to avoid oil-based products.

2. Moderate
Moderate acne includes papules and pustules and though can be treated by Over-The-Counter (OTC) creams, you should also consider reaching out to a professional for treatment advice. You could even be prescribed oral medicine such as antibiotics or hormonal birth control to manage the acne.  

3. Severe
Severe acne would include fungal acne and nodulocystic acne. For severe acne, it usually does not subside on its own, so it is advisable to seek help from a doctor who can advise holistically the best approach to treat the acne and also its potential complications eg blemishes or scars. 

Acne Prevention

While we can’t completely eradicate acne, we can practice ways to manage them. Here are a few ways to do so: 

  1. Keep your face clean. Wash them once or twice a day to remove extra oil, impurities, and dead skin cells. 
  2. Moisturize your face. There are moisturizer types for oil, dry, or combination skin. 
  3. Keep your hands off your face. Doing so will spread bacteria and even irritate already inflamed skin. 
  4. Use makeup sparingly. Choose makeup that is gentle on your skin such as products labeled “noncomedogenic”.

When to See a Doctor?

Mild acne is mostly treatable at home and most will clear on its own. However, if you realize that if they do not get better after several weeks, it is time to consult a doctor or dermatologist. Some cysts will result in large bumps and may even be painful, and those are definitely worth a visit to the doctor. 


All in all, acne is a natural and common occurrence that can be treated. However, when it becomes too severe, it is best to seek professional advice from a doctor. Be it face acne treatment, back acne scar treatment, back acne treatment in Singapore, or more, our doctors at Eeva Medical Aesthetic Clinic are equipped with the expertise and skills you need to help manage and treat them.With treatment methods like Eeva REJUS Polynucleotide Scar Repair (SCAR) subcision , Eeva SX Dual Wave Microneedling RF etc  protocols, we offer customized solutions for face acne treatment, back acne scars treatment, and even back acne laser treatment. Speak to us today to find out more!

Eeva Medical Aesthetic Clinic