Types of Blemishes

Ever wondered how whiteheads and blackheads differ? Or how different types of blemishes respond to different treatments? We’ve covered it all with our comprehensive guide to understanding imperfections.

Understanding the acne grading system

Dermatologists often grade acne using the Pillsbury Classification Scale. This is a numeric system, ranging from 1 to 4, that allows you to determine the severity of your blemishes.

Grade 1

The mildest form of acne. It consists mostly of comedones and pustules on the nose, forehead, cheeks and chin. Salicylic acid-based products will usually clear these problems.

Grade 2

Considered moderate acne. There will be a far greater number of comedones accompanied by papules and pustules. Occasionally, deeper inflamed lesions will also develop. Thorough exfoliation is required to keep this level of acne in check. If left untreated there is a high chance that it will progress to grade 3.

Grade 3

Considered a severe form. The main difference is the amount of inflammation present. Sore, red, swollen lesions tend to take over. Papules and pustules are developed in greater numbers and nodules are generally present. This type of acne is best treated through a combination of topical and oral therapies prescribed by a dermatologist.

Grade 4

The most severe form of acne. It is often referred to as nodulocystic or cystic acne. The skin will display a whole spectrum of blemishes such as comedones, papules, pustules and nodules with the addition of deep-seated cysts. Acne of this severity usually extends beyond the face and may affect the entire back, chest, shoulders and upper arms. Grade 4 acne should always be treated by a dermatologist as it is notoriously difficult to control and almost always requires powerful prescription medicine to keep it at bay.