What do Blemishes Look Like? 3 Types of Blemishes (& How to Treat Them)

Close up portrait of young woman with blemishes

If you’re anything like me, you chalk up any sign of textured skin to being just another zit. After all, if you’ve seen one blemish, you’ve seen ‘em all, right? 🙄 But what do blemishes look like really? Are we right to assume they’re all one and the same?

Well, it turns out there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface of blemishes. Figuring out what blemishes are and why they show up in the first place makes it easier to give them the boot.

Today, we’ll get down to the nitty-gritty of what the most common blemishes are, how they differ, and our favorite, low-effort ways to calm the skin and boost your glow factor. ✨

Types of Skin Blemishes

When talking about what blemishes look like, do your thoughts immediately run through all your vibe-killing acne memories? Same, bestie. 😬 And while we aren’t totally off base, the truth is that blemishes account for much more than the occasional pimple. 

The word “blemish” is a general term describing any texture or discoloration on the skin — acne included. However, there are several types of blemishes that have nothing to do with acne at all. 

Understanding what causes blemishes on the skin gives you more insight into how to keep them away. So without further ado, here are the three most common types of blemishes and our lazy-babe approved methods for fending them off:

  • Acne

  • When pores get clogged with oil, dead skin, and bacteria, that’s when the dreaded A-word shows up uninvited. While acne’s no fun, it’s totally normal — affecting up to 85% of us

    So what do acne blemishes look like?

    • Blackheads, or open comedones, appear as small, dark lesions on your face or neck. They usually happen when our hormones crank up our sebum (oil) production. 

  • Whiteheads, or closed comedones, appear as white bumps along the face, back, chest, neck, or shoulders. Like blackheads, they’re a product of increased sebum production, clogged pores, or hormones.

  • Pimples, also known as zits or pustules, happen when our sebaceous (or oil) glands get clogged and infected, leading to swollen, red lesions filled with pus.

  • Nodular acne describes hard, painful lesions deep under the skin, often appearing on the face, chest, or back. This results from a bacteria called P. acnes becoming trapped inside clogged pores. 

  • Cystic acne is a severe type of acne-causing pores to become blocked, leading to infection and inflammation. It mainly develops on the face but can also form on the shoulders, arms, and back.

  • Despite how common acne is or what blemishes look like — does our confidence take a little hit every time we notice one of those pesky, discolored bumps appear smack-dab in the middle of our foreheads? Guilty. 😒

    Our Go-To for Acne Relief? 

    Since acne commonly results from clogged pores, keeping our complexion clean is the best place to start. But how? Most cleansers are made with harsh astringents, parabens, and unnecessary fragrances that do our acne-prone skin no favors. They can be pretty pricey, too.

    That’s why embody’s One & Done Oil Cleanser is my holy-grail face wash. It does the work of two cleansers in one without over-stripping the skin. Then, after it removes makeup and cleans out pores, it pumps a little hydration right back in. The result? A dewy, fresh-faced complexion that’ll have you gleamin’ like Ari. 

    Besides acne, what other kinds of blemishes on skin occur?

  • Rash

  • Rashes refer to any area of irritated or swollen skin accompanied by an annoying AF itch.

    What do blemishes look like in a rash? It depends: 

  • Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic rash that appears as red, dry, flaky flare-ups with an itch that’s, well, a b*tch. 

  • Psoriasis can be mild to severe. Like eczema, it appears as rough, flaky, irritated skin. Sometimes, it develops as thick, gray, or silvery patches.

  • Rosacea is also a chronic skin condition that appears as red, flushed skin. The persistent flushing can lead to broken blood vessels along the nose and cheeks. 

  • Fungal or bacterial infections like ringworm, shingles, or swimmer’s itch are temporary, extremely uncomfortable rashes brought on by infection.

  • Insect bites are temporary rashes appearing as discolored welts or swollen skin resulting from an insect bite.
  • Our Go-To for Rash Relief?

    The S.O.S. Gummy by embody is a skin-supporting supplement created for itchy babes by itchy babes. 

    This yummy AF gummy packs a delicious punch of skin-calming ingredients like vitamin D, zinc, and MSM to soothe the itch from within while pantothenic acid and evening primrose oil restore hydration and softness. 

    Goodbye, itch! Hello, JLo-glow! 🙌

  • Sun damage

  • While most blemishes do go away with the right skincare, some can be a little more stubborn than others — like the ones brought on by UV rays.

    With regards to sun damage, what do blemishes look like?

  • Sunspots appear as flat, darkened spots. They’re often called age or liver spots, even though they don’t have anything to do with the liver.
  • Hyperpigmentation is characterized by darkened skin, usually in patches. 
  • Sunburn scars happen when a nasty sunburn (especially a second-degree sunburn) leaves behind scar tissue on the body. 
  • Freckles, also called ephelides, are small, smooth brown to red pigment cells under the skin.
  • Actinic Keratosis is a rough, scaly patch on the skin resulting from years of sun exposure.
    • Skin cancer, like carcinoma or melanoma, is an abnormal growth of skin cells.

    These blemishes typically occur on skin most exposed to the sun, like your face, hands, shoulders, etc.

    Our Go-To for Sun Protection?

    First, always apply sunscreen before you head out to soak up some sunny rays. It cuts your risk of developing skin cancer and other symptoms of sun damage almost in half. So don’t skimp on the SPF, sis.

    Next, start incorporating skin-boosting ingredients, like retinol (or vitamin A), into your skincare. Celeb esthetician, Shani Darden, describes retinol as the ultimate multi-tasker — helping with everything from slowing down aging, evening out skin’s pigment, smoothing texture, and more. 

    The downside? At first, topical retinoids can make skin wig out worse than before. One way to bypass the discomfort? Ingestible skincare. 😋

    The Retinol Gummy by embody keeps your skin and bathroom counter clear. 

    By ingesting retinol (versus applying it), you get a less-concentrated dose diffused throughout your entire body — supporting your skin, eyes, organs, and even your immune system. Just don’t forget to get the okay from your doc first. 

    There’s no such thing as bad skin. 

    So what do blemishes look like? Like regular skin, tbh. 

    We all have skin woes to overcome — what sets us apart is how we handle them. 

    Take a page out of Kim K’s book. Where would her billion-dollar empire be today if she hid away every time she had a psoriasis flare-up

    A world without Skims? Preposterous, if you ask me. 

    Instead, lift your gorgeous head high and remember: we all have something that knocks us off our throne now and again. It’s how you get back up and step into your #HBIC energy that matters. Fortunately, you’ve got your official skincare bestie, embody, in your corner to give you a lift. 👑