While the words “acne” and “pimple” are used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. One is a type of blemish while the other is an ongoing skin condition with a range of symptoms. Both can be caused by a clogged or inflamed pore, but acne is more of a skin disorder while pimples are one of its symptoms.

The Difference Between Acne and Pimples

Continue reading as we discuss the difference between a pimple and acne, as well as the aesthetic treatments that can help calm your skin and improve both types of blemishes.  

What is a pimple? 

Pimples are a symptom of acne, characterized by inflamed, pus-filled lesions. If acne emerges as severe pus-filled breakouts across the face, pimples are commonly a singular blemish or lesion. If you have one inflamed blemish, you have a pimple, but if it’s a cluster of pimples, you have acne. 

A pimple shows up when the pores become clogged by excess sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cells. Whiteheads and blackheads, which are also referred to as closed and open comedones respectively, are non-inflammatory pimples caused by clogged pores. 

Pimples can also be classified as papules and pustules. Papules are inflamed lesions that show up as tiny, pink bumps that can be tender to the touch. Pustules, on the other hand, are bumps that have white to yellow pus on the tip. Both can occur together and a cluster of them can be considered moderate to severe acne. 

Treatment options: Over-the-counter topical products can help improve occasional or a few pimples. Some of these formulas may contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, retinoids, or azelaic acid as their active ingredient. There are also pimple or hydrocolloid patches that can help improve the blemish overnight. 

What is acne?

Acne or acne vulgaris is an inflammatory skin condition. Compared to a regular pimple, acne is more persistent and sometimes painful, with multiple breakouts emerging on the skin’s surface. It affects both the oil glands and hair follicles and occurs when the hair follicles become clogged with excess oil, dirt, or dead skin cells.

Here are a few factors that can contribute to the appearance of or make acne worse:

  • Hormonal fluctuations (puberty, pregnancy, and menstrual cycle)
  • Genetic predisposition to acne
  • Certain medications (corticosteroids and anabolic steroids)
  • Squeezing, picking, or popping existing pimples
  • High humidity
  • Using oil-based makeup or cosmetics

If you have acne-prone skin, you may have persistent and recurring pimples. It may also be accompanied by blackheads and whiteheads, as well as papules, pustules, cysts, or nodules. And with this skin type, you are likely to have frequent, persistent, and long-lasting blemishes.

Acne signs and symptoms can vary depending on the severity of your condition. They can also be non-inflammatory like open/closed comedones or inflammatory with infected and inflamed pimples. Below are the different types of acne:

  • Whiteheads – closed plugged pores under the skin surface
  • Blackheads – open plugged pores on the skin surface
  • Papules – small, pink (or red) bumps that can be tender to the touch
  • Pustules – papules with white or yellow pus-filled lesions on the tip
  • Nodules – parge, painful solid lumps deep under the skin
  • Cysts (severe nodular acne) – painful, pus-filled lesions under the skin

Treatment options: These depend on your symptoms and their severity. Mild or moderate acne can be improved by over-the-counter medications, but the results may take months to show. There are also cases where you may experience purging, with your breakouts getting worse before getting better. 

For more severe conditions, combination treatments are usually recommended. These can include OTC products, prescription-strength medication, as well as oral medications like antibiotics. Some may also need laser and light therapies, chemical peels, and other procedures to improve both acne and scarring. 

Further reading: The Dos and Don’ts of Tackling Your Acne

Aesthetic treatments at Cutis

Here at Cutis, we have several treatments that can help improve acne, as well as other associated symptoms. These include: 

VI Peel Purify 

VI Peel Purify is a type of VI Peel scientifically formulated for active and oily skin. It features a unique formula that can effectively treat acne and tackle a range of symptoms brought on by acne symptoms. 

This medium-depth peel can help clear out pores, preventing the build-up of oil and bacteria. It contains the original VI Peel formula with additional powerful ingredients for effective and consistent results. 

Benefits include:

  • Kills P. acne bacteria
  • Soothes redness and inflammation
  • Increases cell turnover to unclog pores
  • Suitable for teen and active acne, and congested skin

Laser genesis skin therapy

This US FDA-cleared procedure uses a non-invasive technology for tackling various skin concerns. Laser genesis gently heats the upper dermis well below the skin surface to stimulate collagen regrowth. Also, it generates extra heat in dilated capillaries to reduce skin redness commonly associated with rosacea.

Laser genesis can help improve: 

  • Enlarged pores
  • Uneven skin texture
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Sun damage and pigmentation
  • Redness 
  • Scars

Hydra dermabrasion

As its name suggests, hydra dermabrasion uses the power of water and oxygen to exfoliate the skin and address a range of issues. It involves cleansing, exfoliation (T-zone intensive care), and infusing the skin with formulated serums. Hydra dermabrasion can treat or improve several skin issues, such as:

  • Oily and congested skin
  • Enlarged pores
  • Uneven skin tone and texture
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Signs of aging

Hydra dermabrasion uses a painless suction technique to vacuum out the pores while nourishing the skin with replenishing ingredients. It provides noticeable skin refinements after just a single session, which is why it is requested before special occasions like weddings and red-carpet events. 

Read our previous post and check out the 5 reasons to love hydra dermabrasion

Schedule a consultation 

If you’re looking to improve your pimples, acne, or other skin care issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and book a consultation with our aesthetic doctor. We at Cutis Medical Laser Clinics focus on patient education and a patient-centered approach to create a customized treatment that suits your needs and concerns.

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