Having pimples can be distressing alone, but when they are severe and painful, it can feel like an insult to injury. That’s one of the many reasons why nodular acne, commonly referred to as nodulocystic acne, cystic acne, and nodular cystic acne can significantly impact our lives. Unlike the acne lesions most of us experience, nodular acne lesions are rooted much deeper in the skin. If you struggle with acne of any type, including nodular acne, our dermatologists in Gainesville can help. No matter your skin condition or concern, our skin specialists are committed to helping you achieve healthy and beautiful skin throughout each life stage.
Contact our office today to schedule a dermatologist appointment and to learn more about our available skin care treatments for various skin conditions.
What Is Nodular Acne?
Nodular acne is a form of inflammatory acne characterized by hard, painful, deep acne lesions located deep under the skin. It can occur anywhere on the skin but commonly on the face, chest, and back. Unlike regular pimples, acne nodules may endure for weeks or months. They don’t typically develop a whitehead; instead, they remain as hardened knots under the skin. Nodular acne can be very painful, and the appearance of these lesions may affect your self-esteem and emotional well-being.
What Causes Nodular Acne?
Nodular acne starts when a pore becomes clogged with a mix of natural oils (sebum), dead skin cells, and other debris. This causes a blackhead or a pimple that clears up relatively quickly for most people. But for those with nodular acne, clogged pores can cause a more severe breakout. The primary nodular acne cause occurs when a type of bacteria (P. acnes) gets trapped inside a clogged pore.
This results in an infection affecting the skin’s deep layers, which causes hard nodules to develop under the skin. Nodules can occur on their own or may spread over a larger area, developing in patches of nodules. Unlike regular pimples, acne nodules don’t tend to form a head, meaning that attempting to squeeze them will not release pus and may lead to further inflammation. Nodular acne can be caused by hormones, genetics, and poor hygiene.
Symptoms Of Nodular Acne
The most common symptom of nodular acne is hardened lesions on the face, chest, or back. It may also affect other areas of the body. Nodules can be the same color as the skin or appear red or pink. Acne nodules are commonly inflamed and may be painful to touch. Many people describe them as hard knots deep in the skin. Nodular acne breakouts can last for weeks or months at a time. Without professional treatment, nodular acne can result in scarring. The following includes some of the most common characteristics of nodular acne.
- Red, inflamed lesions on the skin
- Nodules without heads
- Painful bumps on the face, chest, neck, or back
- Usually large
What Does Nodular Acne Look Like?
Nodular acne is a severe and deep form of acne where the clogged pore turns into a thick bump under the skin, which means the bump is not communicating with the skin’s surface, so it’s just about impossible to extract. It’s a bump you can feel with your hand, and it sits deep into the dermis, usually causing pain, as it sits close to the nerves. This acne can appear the same color as the surrounding skin but often becomes red and irritated.
This is caused by the immune system attempting to break up and absorb dead skin cells, skin oil, and other inflammatory cell debris that accumulates under the skin. Because nodular acne lives in the deeper layers of the skin, these acne lesions are often accompanied by scarring. The nodules push the surrounding collagen aside, and the inflammation surrounding the nodule damages and changes the collagen. Once these stubborn bumps finally go away, they leave an indentation or acne scars behind.