For many people, active acne describes a skin condition that makes people spotty. And yet, acne is a much more complex affliction which ranges in severity and types. Acne vulgaris is the most common type affecting people.

Whatever the type of acne, it is always important to deal with it as soon as it appears, as it can cause scarring if left untreated.

Mild to moderate acne vulgaris usually results in the following types of spots:

• Whiteheads. These are tiny lumps which form when sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria get stuck together in a pore.

• Blackheads happen when a pore is not completely blocked. The colour is down to the skin’s pigment reacting with the air, and is nothing to do with dirt.

• Papules: red, sore bumps with no head. Never squeeze one…

• Pustules are basically pus-filled papules, and are what we commonly associate with acne.

Severe acne vulgaris can be distinguished by two other types of blemish:

• Nodules. These are hard lumps under the skin that are usually much bigger than mild or moderate acne. They can last for months.

• Cysts, which look like nodules, but are filled with pus. Again, they can last for longer and be painful. Squeezing either cysts or nodules greatly increases the risk of significant scarring.