What is Acne Vulgaris and How is it Different Than Regular Acne?

What is Acne Vulgaris and How is it Different Than Regular Acne?

Have you ever heard the term “acne vulgaris”?  It sounds like a very nasty condition and one that perhaps afflicts the private areas of the body, but it’s good to have a correct and scientific understanding of what this term means so that you can understand if you have this condition if it’s different than typical acne, and how to treat it properly.  Let’s first look at the definition of the term acne vulgaris. 

The term Vulgaris simply means something that is common or ordinary.  The word vulgar comes from this, meaning something that is so common or ordinary that it is thought of as being low-class.  Someone that says something vulgar is saying something that is not appropriate in polite company.  We may not think of the term “common” as being something that should be looked down upon, but remember that word meanings usually go back decades if not even hundreds of years when people behaved differently and had different expectations than they do today.  An off-color joke was thought to be something that only “common” people understood and not something shared among those that were of the upper classes, so it was “vulgar.”  But getting back to acne vulgaris, the point is that the term vulgaris simply refers to common or everyday acne.  As a matter of fact, most doctors don’t even use the term acne vulgaris and simply refer to acne on its own.


It’s important to remember though that there are different forms of acne, and acne vulgaris is different from cystic acne.  Cystic acne has pimples that contain bacteria that go very deep under the skin and is usually the most severe form of acne, often leaving very deep scars even while a person still has breakouts.  Most people that have cystic acne need to see a doctor get a prescription for antibiotics so that they can address the bacteria that go so deep that topical ointments don’t fix it.  With acne vulgaris or everyday acne, it’s usually possible to address it with topical solutions and a good skin care regimen.

This doesn’t mean that acne vulgaris or any form of acne is something to be dismissed.  Even common everyday breakouts can be very difficult for those who suffer from them, and not all respond to treatment the way they should.  Very stubborn or chronic breakouts may also need a prescription for antibiotics if they don’t respond to topical medications such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, common ingredients in most acne treatment options.  When confronted with acne vulgaris that doesn’t go away or respond to topical ointments doctors can also recommend procedures such as microdermabrasion, light therapy, laser therapy, and things such as these.  Many dermatologists even specialize in acne treatment and can do a world of good for any sufferer or patient.  So whether it’s acne vulgaris you have or cystic acne or if you’re not even sure, see your doctor and get some treatment for it.

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