Inflammatory Acne vs Non-Inflammatory Acne: What's The Difference, Causes, & Treatments?

Inflammatory Acne vs Non-Inflammatory Acne: What's The Difference, Causes, & Treatments?

When you’re met with the unwelcome sight of a brand new pimple, you probably aren’t too concerned with its backstory—you just want to make it go away ASAP. 

But not all pimples are created equal, and understanding the differences between distinct types of acne and what causes this skin condition to flare up will give you a jumpstart on your acne treatment journey to clearer, healthier, happier skin. 

Curious about which type of acne you might be experiencing? In this acne inflammation guide, we’ll explore the key distinctions between inflammatory vs non-inflammatory acne so you can banish your blemishes and achieve a swift victory against an acne breakout. 


Let’s start with the basics. The term inflammation refers to the way our bodies respond when they are trying to protect us against external stimuli. 

When the immune system identifies a harmful foreign intruder, such as acne-causing bacteria, it goes into defense mode to get rid of the invader and begin the healing process.

So, you’re probably wondering, if an inflammatory response is a sign that our body is trying to protect us, then why does it lead to painful and unsightly acne?

Put simply, inflammatory acne is the result of a pore or hair follicle becoming clogged with substances like:

  • Natural oil called sebum is produced by the sebaceous gland
  • Oil that comes from skincare or cosmetic products
  • Dead skin cells 
  • Other debris from the environment or skincare products

When these clogged pores turn into blemishes, they can burst. This process, unfortunately, exacerbates the existing acne inflammation by sending the not-so-nice contents of the pimple, like the aforementioned acne-causing bacteria into the rest of your skin.

The end result is the development of red, swollen, often painful blemishes: the trademark signs of inflammatory acne. Understanding how to reduce sebum production can be an important piece of the puzzle, as excess sebum is a key contributor to acne formation.


As the name suggests, non-inflammatory acne is a skin condition that does not come with inflammation or swelling. 

Instead, this category of severe acne breakout manifests in two main forms that you’re probably already familiar with. These types are: 


When contaminants on the skin block our pores and get trapped inside, a small bump forms on the skin. Generally, these blemishes are visible as a tiny raised white area protruding above the skin. 


While whiteheads are closed bumps, blackheads remain open. Because the pore and the trapped debris within can make contact with outside air, a chemical reaction occurs which causes blackheads to gain their dark coloration. 


Whether you struggle with inflammatory acne, non-inflammatory acne, or a mixture of both, there are steps you can take to bring your skin some much-needed relief. 

Maintaining a consistent skincare routine that makes use of gentle, well-formulated cleansers and moisturizers is vital for setting the foundation for healthy and clear skin. 

In addition to this routine maintenance, there are specific strategies you can use to combat different types of acne. Let’s explore some trusted treatment options you can use to target your unique skin concerns. 


Although the two types of acne we’ve outlined may have diverging symptoms and underlying causes, the good news is that they both respond well to similar forms of treatment. 

The most common methods of treating acne include oral medications and topical treatments. 

However, it can take a lot of time and effort to procure prescription medications. For a simpler and faster solution, we recommend using topical skincare solutions with reliable, proven ingredients.

For mitigating inflammatory acne, these popular treatments can do the trick:

  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Niacinamide
  • Retinoids such as tretinoin

Effective over-the-counter treatments for non-inflammatory acne include:

  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Salicylic acid
  • Retinoids such as adapalene

Did you catch the crossover? 

Both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne respond well to benzoyl peroxide and retinoids. This means you can invest in a powerful topical retinoid to address two skin concerns at once. 


Our Seven:Thirty skincare line harnesses the power of these clinically renowned medications. Here’s how you can reap the benefits of both treatments from our collection of topical retinoid skincare solutions: 

Benzoyl peroxide 

Our RESET Acne Treatment Gel is formulated to shrink inflammatory acne lesions caused by inflammatory acne. This antibacterial cream also works to unclog congested pores. To accommodate a diverse range of skin types and tolerances, we created two versions of this gel. The gentler variant contains only 2.8% Benzoyl Peroxide. The higher strength treatment is 5% Benzoyl Peroxide, making it perfect for normal to oily skin that is struggling with stubborn inflamed acne. 


Our 101 Gentle Retinoid is a great way to enjoy all the anti-acne benefits this ingredient has to offer while also smoothing out your skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines, and improving collagen. THE FIX Revital A is another meticulously formulated cream in our acne skincare collection. This product simultaneously works to unclog congested pores and decrease pigmentation caused by previous bouts of acne. For those curious about the differences between various retinoids, exploring retinoid vs retinol can provide valuable insights into their unique benefits for skin care. 



Whether you’re seeking solutions for inflamed or non-inflamed acne, the best thing you can do for your skin health is to stay consistent with a regimen of quality topical products. 

That’s the principle our brand is built upon. At Seven:Thirty, we’re committed to formulating skincare solutions that really work so you can enjoy the noticeable relief and results you deserve. 

We use high-performing active ingredients to help you target specific skin concerns. Our mission is to help you look and feel like your best, most confident self. Incorporate the products from our carefully curated line into your skincare routine to experience the Seven:Thirty difference.


National Library of Medicine. Chronic Inflammation.

Cleveland Clinic. Inflammatory Acne.

Medical News Today. Pimple types: 6 types of acne.

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