Skip to content
Understanding the Difference Between Acne and Pimples

Understanding the Difference Between Acne and Pimples

People who have oily, acne-prone skin know how challenging it can be to keep your skin looking healthy and clear. Although oily skin is more susceptible to acne and pimples, other skin types can also experience breakouts, making it a widespread skin concern that affects many.

Even though acne and pimples are sometimes used interchangeably, what makes them different from each other? Are they discrete skin issues with different causes and treatments, or are they the exact same thing?

If all these acne vs. pimples questions are keeping you up at night, you’re in the right place. Let us help you understand the difference between acne and pimples and how you can fight them.

What is Acne?

Acne on a teenager and young adults face.

Acne is an inflammatory skin condition or disease that occurs when dirt, dead skin cells, sweat and/or oil block or plug the hair follicles of the skin. Although most common among teenagers and young adults, acne can affect people of all ages. 

Types of Acne

1. Blackheads: Small, dark coloured non-inflammatory bumps over the skin’s surface

2. Whiteheads: Small, flesh-coloured non-inflammatory bumps within the skin

3. Papules: Red or pink coloured inflammatory bumps on the skin’s surface

4. Pustules: Red or pink coloured inflammatory bumps with pus at the centre

5. Nodules: Large, painful bumps deep beneath the skin's surface.

6. Cysts: Large, pus-filled bumps deep beneath the skin's surface, often painful and prone to scarring.

Symptoms of Acne

1. Hardening of the skin bumps

2. Redness and inflammation around the acne lesions

3. Itching and irritation of the affected area

4. Oily or greasy skin

5. Scarring and hyperpigmentation (dark spots) after the acne has healed

What are Pimples?

Pimples on a your face.

Pimples, also known as zits or spots, are small, inflamed bumps which are pink to red in colour. Pimples are one of the most common forms of acne, however, not every pimple indicates the occurrence of acne breakout.

Symptoms of Pimples

1. A tiny, sore, red coloured lump on the skin's surface

2. Pus-filled white or yellow coloured centre

3. Itching, pain, or soreness near the afflicted area

4. Irritation and redness around the pimple

Causes of Acne and Pimples

The main reason behind the occurrence of acne and pimples is the excess production of sebum, i.e. oil in the skin as well as the accumulation of dead skin cells, bacteria, impurities, and/or sweat in the hair follicles. There are other factors which don’t directly lead to acne and pimples but can fairly trigger their breakouts. These factors include:

1. Genetic or hereditary factors

2. Hormonal changes

3. Exposure to harmful chemicals

4. Poor hygiene

5. Heat and humidity

6. Unhealthy eating habits

7. Stress

8. Certain medications

Now that you have a fair understanding of the difference between acne and pimples and their causes, the next essential thing to learn about is how to combat the episodes of acne and pimple breakouts.

How to Reduce Acne and Pimples

Frustrated because of frequent acne and pimple visits? Follow the below tips to deal with these pestering guests effectively.

1. Cleansing your Face Regularly

Cleanse your face with a suitable face wash

As the main reason behind acne is clogged pores, it’s important to ensure to keep your face clean. Cleanse your face with a suitable face wash twice a day to do away with oiliness and build-up of any impurities.

2. Use Toxin-Free Skin Care Products

Use gentle and skin-friendly products that suit your skin after clean your face

Unsuitable products or products with harsh chemicals can cause damage to your skin, including giving a rise to or aggravating acne and pimple breakouts. Hence, make sure to use gentle and skin-friendly products that suit your skin.

3. Don’t Touch your Face Too Often

If you have to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean

Touching your face can transfer dirt, oil or bacteria from your hands to your face, leading to breakouts. Avoid touching your face unnecessarily, and if you have to touch it, make sure your hands are clean.

4. Keep up with Hydration

Water can help keep your skin hydrated and pollutants out

Drinking water can help keep your skin hydrated and flush out toxins, which can reduce the occurrence of acne and pimple breakouts. 

5. Exercise Daily

Exercising reduces stress and improves blood circulation, keeping skin healthy and preventing breakouts.

Exercising in any form can help reduce your stress levels and better your blood circulation which can help keep up your skin’s health and glow, decreasing chances of breakouts.

6. De-Stress

Managing stress prevents acne and pimples.

Stress causes hormonal imbalance that can trigger increased oil production in the skin's sebaceous glands, leading to breakouts. Hence, managing stress is crucial to keep acne and pimples at bay.

The Takeaway

Understanding the difference between acne and pimples is important for the right care and treatment. While pimples often don’t last long, acne can be almost chronic for some. But, with the proper care and attention, you won’t be in a pickle anymore. Keep yourself hygienic and hydrated, use the right products and be kind to your skin to keep away the acne and pimple blues.


1. Are acne and pimples the same?

Acne is a skin condition or disease that is a result of clogged pores, and pimples are a type or symptom of acne. However, it is to be noted that not all pimples are acne.

2. How many types of acne are there?

Acne can be 6 types, including Blackheads, Whiteheads, Papules, Pustules, Nodules, and Cysts.

3. What does acne look like?

Acne are bumps that arise either over the surface of your skin or from within your skin. It can appear in many different forms, including blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts. Blackheads and whiteheads are non-inflammatory in nature, while papules and pustules are inflammatory, and nodules and cysts are the most painful types of acne.

4. Why do pimples occur on the face?

Pimples can occur for a variety of reasons, including excess oil production, hormonal changes, bacteria, certain medications, poor hygiene, bad diet, stress and so on.
Previous article Buying Deodorant Roll On for Women: 4 Points You Should Know
Next article Spice for Skin: Saffron Benefits and Uses
Spin to win Spinner icon