Is Acne Different from Pimples?

This is one of the questions that get some women confused. I once had a lady who insisted that what she had were pimples and not acne?

But are they really different? And if they are, when small bumps appear on your skin, what do you call them? Acne or pimples?

I will be answering these questions in the next few minutes. So, without wasting any time, let us get started.

Is acne different from pimples?

I will answer that question but let me start by explaining what acne is….

Acne is a skin condition that affects your skin’s oil glands and hair follicles which causes your skin to get inflamed and causes bumps to pop up on your skin.

Pimples, on the other hand, is one of the symptoms/ types of acne. Acne manifests in different ways, it could be in the form of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, etc.

When you have pimples, it is an indication of acne. So, if you notice pimples on your skin, then you have acne.

Pimples are acne! Pimples are the same thing as acne.

But there is a twist….

You can have acne without having pimples.

Like I said earlier, a pimple is just one symptom of acne. So, if you have only blackheads on your skin without having pimples, you still have acne because blackheads are also a symptom of acne.

Now back to the question of the day:

Is Acne different from pimples? No. Acne is not different from pimples.

What is most important is that you can tell when it is pimples on your skin or other forms of acne. To be able to do that, you need to know the symptoms of acne and be able to identify them.

Symptoms of acne

There are six symptoms of acne. Some people call them types. They include:

  1. Whiteheads

Whiteheads are non-inflammatory acne. They are also called closed comedones.

They are usually small, flesh-colored bumps. These bumps have a white circular center which is surrounded by a red halo.

The skin surrounding the whitehead might seem tight or wrinkled, especially if it is raised or large.

Whiteheads do not cause scarring.

  1. Blackheads

Blackheads are also called open comedones.

They are usually small, dark-colored or black bumps that appear slightly raised. The skin surrounding a blackhead appears normal, while the skin at the center of the blackhead is darker than the skin in the surrounding area.

The difference between whiteheads and blackheads is that blackheads are open and the dark colour is caused by the exposure to oxygen (oxidation).

  1. Pustules (which we call pimples)

Unlike blackheads and whiteheads, pustules are inflammatory.

They are what we all call pimples. They are small bulging bumps with a well-defined round center and they are usually surrounded by red and inflamed skin.

The center of pustules is usually filled with yellowish or white pus while the base of the bump takes a pink or red colour.

Pustules form when a skin pore gets blocked by excess sebum or dead skin cells and is infected by bacteria.

  1. Papules

Papules are also inflammatory.

Much like the pustules, papules are small red bumps that form when excess oil and dead skin cells block your skin pores and mix with a bacteria in your skin called Propionibacterium acnes.

They are solid and raised bumps that form under the skin’s surface. The skin surrounding papules are usually slightly swollen and red.

Papules can occur when blackheads or whiteheads cause do much irritation that they damage the surrounding skin of the bump.

This damage leads to inflammation which turns to papules.

  1. Nodules

Nodules are hard, painful, and inflamed lumps. They appear flesh-colored or red.

They are locally deep underneath your skin’s surface. They look like deeper, larger papules. However, they do not have a visible center or head.

Nodules appear on your skin when clogged skin pores damage tissue and skin cells located deep beneath the skin’s surface.

They are a severe form of acne and they can lead to skin complications like scarring or dark spots.

  1. Cysts

Cystic acne or cyst is the most severe form of acne.

Cysts are usually very large, red or white, painful, inflamed, and filled with pus. They are located deep in the skin, deeper than nodules.

They are softer than nodules because they are filled with pus. If one is not careful, they can burst open and infect the surrounding skin.

They can lead to infections deep within your skin and can also cause complications like scarring.

How to treat acne

Since pimples are a symptom of acne, anything that treats acne can treat it. Here are some of the ways you can treat acne.

  1. Follow a skincare routine

This tip will not only help you to treat acne but also help to prevent it.

A skincare routine is basically the steps you take each day to take care of your skin. Your skincare regimen should include a cleanser, toner, moisturizer, anti-acne serum, eye cream, and sunscreen.

For a skincare routine you can follow to get rid of acne, please read this article: 7 Things to Include in Your Skincare Regimen

  1. Get an anti-acne product

This is the first thing you should do.

An anti-acne product helps to get clear of acne and pimples as well. You can get one with ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids, salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, retinoids, etc.

All these ingredients help to get rid of acne

  1. Make use of home remedies

If you prefer home remedies to skincare products, then you can try out any of these: lemon juice, aloe vera, green tea, honey, turmeric, tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, etc.

  1. Make lifestyle changes

There are some lifestyle changes you need to make to get rid of acne:

  1. Drink lots of water
  2. Keep your hands from your face
  3. Wash your face twice daily
  4. Exfoliate
  5. Wash your bedsheets at least thrice weekly
  6. Do not smoke
  7. Get enough sleep
  8. Eat a balanced meal and stay away from sugary and greasy foods

Bottom line….

Pimples are a symptom of acne.

If you have pimples, then you have acne. However, you can have acne on your skin and it will not be pimples.

This is because acne manifests on the skin in different ways and a pimple is just one of them.

Now that you know the difference, the next time you notice bumps on your skin, you will be able to tell the difference.

If you have any questions, leave a comment and I will answer as soon as I can.

4 thoughts on “Is Acne Different from Pimples?

  1. Apart from taking my bath two times daily, do I still need to wash my face twice a day

    1. Hi Ifunaya,

      It is not necessary. We wash our faceswhen we take our baths.

    1. We do not have a full set but we have Selina, a soap that removes acne, black spots, and other skin blemishes. When you get the soap, you get our organic moisturizer for free. For more info about the soap, please click on this link:

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