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How to identify and treat different types of pimples

How to identify and treat different types of pimples - Sabbia Co

I think we can all agree on one common enemy, pimples. They are the bane of our existence, and although we can spend all day dreaming about a world without pimples, that’s not going to get us anywhere. The harsh reality is, pimples are something we’ll have to deal with now and in the future, and the only way to minimise their impact on your life is to understand how to treat and prevent them for when they do inevitably show up uninvited to the party that is your face.

There are 6 common types of pimples and each of them are caused for different causes and have different solutions. So before you go throwing a ‘pimple spot treatment’ on your new face foe, keep reading to find out effective ways to minimise that breakout type. 




Whiteheads are the most common type of pimple, also known as ‘comedones’ meaning that it is a closed pore pimple. It is caused by a build up in your pore, which can be caused by excess oil production, makeup or sunscreen build up, dead skin cells, and other comedogenic products. 


Black heads:

Blackheads are one of the most common types of pimples, they can also be referred to as ‘open comedones’, as it is an open pore that has been exposed to the air. A blackhead is formed in a very similar way to a whitehead, but it is mostly differentiated by it dark appearance when it surfaces on the skin. The dark colour is actually a reaction of melanin as it oxidises.


Causes of whiteheads and blackheads are:

  • A build up of oil, dirt, makeup, products and dead skin cells in your hair follicles. 
  • Hormonal changes which can lead to increased oil production
  • A lack of cleansing/exfoliating


Ways to treat and/or prevent whiteheads and blackheads:

The best way to prevent blackheads and whiteheads is by remaining consistent with your cleansing and exfoliating routines. Make sure you are removing your makeup and skincare every night with a double cleanse and remaining consistent at showering at night.

Personally I love using the konjac sponge every single night because this is a really gentle way to exfoliate the skin without drying out the skin. If you are experiencing breakouts a great ingredient to look for in your cleansers is salicylic acid, which is found in our botanical glow cleanser. 

Our matcha clay mask and charcoal adaptogen mask can be effective in extracting the build up in your pores.

Another VERY important thing to note here is that you should NOT attempt to pop your pimples or extract them with your fingers. Squeezing them allows bacteria to enter the pore and may make them inflamed - which only makes it worse.



A papule forms in a similar way to white heads, and is also a closed comedone pimple. Whiteheads become papules when the the build up ruptures and disperses into the skin tissue. After this, your skin responds naturally with inflammation to fight the bacteria. Papules tend to be quite small in size, often smaller than 0.5 cm, and are red in colour.


Causes of Papules:

  • Untreated white heads
  • Bacteria build up, can often be caused by shaving in men
  • Stress and hormones 



Sadly, most untreated papules turn into pustules. This happens when the papule begins to accumulate pus within the comedone. They will also grow in size and develop a yellow or white centre. These pimples, much like their less inflamed predecessor, papules, are caused by bacteria, so if you do find a sudden influx of papules or pustules on your skin, it may be best to speak with a dermatologist or your GP to gain their professional advice. If untreated the pus in the pustule can harden, and this is what causes cysts and nodules.


How to Treat and prevent Papules and Pustules:

Salicylic acid is the golden standard for being able to penetrate the pore and begin to breakdown and clear out buildups. However, since this type of breakout can occur as a result of bacterial infection, it may sometimes require support from a dermatologist, and they may prescribe you some antibiotics to help your body fight off the bacteria. 

Like all other types of pimples, one the best way to prevent these breakouts is by maintaining a good cleansing and exfoliating routine. Keeping your pores clean and clear is the best way to ensure build up does not occur. Sometimes your skin can be breaking out as a result of stress, change in diet, change in environment, or a change in lifestyle. There are so many potential causes for breakouts, that’s why educating yourself around the topic is the best way to be prepared for them. 



These pimple types can be easily identified by their size, and their density/hardness. Cysts and Nodules tend to be large accumulations of hardened pus and build up within closed comedones. 

Cysts are softer than nodules and tend to look like large red boils. Cystic pimples may sometimes burst on or under the skin’s surface causing a spread of the bacteria. It is very rare for cysts a to occur without whiteheads, blackheads, papule, and pustules having worsened.

A cyst becomes a nodule when untreated, this is when the build up and pus inside of your cyst hardens. They tend to remain intact and do not burst. Since it the pore has gone through many pimple stages to reach this point, it may also no longer be red in appearance and may appear as a skin toned mound. It can be identified by its incredibly hard, under-the-surface ball like feel. At this point, the pimple is very stubborn and if tried to be popped if can become inflamed, and may spread under your skin instead of coming to the surface.


How to treat Cyst/Nodules:

The most important things to do here is keep your skin clean, and try to avoid any physical or harsh exfoliants. Salicylic acid will be good to keep your other pores clean, but will do very little to break down the cystic and nodular formations under your skin’s surface.

If your pimple has made it to this point you should visit your GP or a dermatologist and they will prescribe you either topical or oral antibiotics to help address the build up. After a week or so of consistent treatment, you will begin to see results. However, in severe cases of cysts and nodules, it can sometimes take months to completely rid your skin of them. 


Don't hesitate to DM us on instagram if you ever have any questions. We're always happy to answer your questions and talk all things skincare!

Big Love Always,

Kiah - Digital Marketing Coordinator here at Sabbia Co