As anyone who has suffered from acne knows, it's the pits. Not only does it always crop up at the absolute worst time, but it saps your self-esteem, makes you want to hide your face from the world, and generally proves nigh on impossible to treat in a quick and painless fashion. Like we said, it's the worst.
If all that wasn't bad enough, turns out not all acne is created equal — or even acne for that matter. That big red bump on your chin could be a run-of-the-mill hormonal breakout caused by your period, or it could be a side effect of everything from your new skin-care cream to your spinning class.
Because you can't effectively treat your breakouts if you don't know what they are and what's causing them, we went to two pimple pros — Dr. Eric Schweiger, medical director of Clear Clinic, and Dr. Dennis Gross, creator of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare and founder of 900 5th Dermatology in NYC — to get to the bottom of your breakouts. Using everything from the location of the zit to when you get it and what it looks like, they helped us identify the most common forms of acne and acne imposters, plus their best in-office and at-home protocols to fix them.
While this handy guide won't take the place of a real diagnosis from a licensed derm, it can help you potentially narrow down what type of pimple problem you have and zero in on the right course of treatment. It will also save you time and money on products that aren't right for your particular brand of breakout.