What’s the Difference Between Hormonal & Inflammatory Acne?

posted in: Acne, Skincare tips

Unsightly and uncomfortable, inconvenient and infuriating, acne has a tendency to pop up at the worst possible moment and becomes just all the synonyms for annoying. It’d be nice if the days of acne stayed in the halls of our high school, but for many of us: it’s a life long battle for our complexion. And one of the best ways to fight a battle like acne is to know the battlefield.

Hormonal Acne Symptoms

So how can you tell if you’re dealing with hormonal or inflammatory acne? Well, hormonal acne breakouts are typically associated with:


  • Larger, more painful cysts rather than whiteheads or blackheads

  • A breakout that is clustered around the jawline and chin specifically

  • It seems to pop up on a somewhat regular (monthly) basis


Hormonal acne is not something that happens because you’re not washing your face correctly, it occurs when your hormones rise above certain levels. Typical and often topical treatments won’t do as much for this as the other type of acne: inflammatory acne.

Inflammatory Acne

An incredibly common occurrence, from teenagers to babies and adults. Inflammatory acne is categorized mainly by:


  • Papules and pustules instead of blackheads

  • Tender blemishes

  • Redness and swelling

  • It occurs anywhere, your face, neck, back, butt, chest


In most cases it’s easy to treat with over the counter treatments, especially things heavy in salicylic acid, such as the [re]Fresh Salicylic Acid 2% Peel. It occurs when a microscopic blockages prevent the oil from escaping your pores. The oil keeps getting produced, and eventually the pressure becomes too much and it breaks through, but instead of going out the pore it goes sideways into the skin. Your body responds by sending white blood cells to the area to fight the infection, and the result is the raised red blemishes that mark this type of acne.