What is the difference between acne and pimples?

I’ve received the question above many times, which I’m thrilled about. I LOVE that you are so active and curious, and I would very much like to answer all your amazing questions, so please, do not hold back! Fire away!

What is the difference between acne and pimples? The difference between acne and pimples is hard to figure out. There is a strong connection between acne and pimples. Acne is a skin-disease, while pimples is a symptom of this disease. If you suffer from acne, you will have pimples. But, having pimples, does not mean that you have acne.

That was the shortest possible answer. If you would like to learn more about the difference, you’ll need to put on your reading-goggles and dig your way through the rest of the article, where any question you could possibly have, will be answered.

The nuanced insight into the difference between acne and pimples

For you to understand the difference between acne and pimples, you first of all need to understand, what each term means. Let’s start with pimples.

What are pimples?

We are going to start off with a quite complex description: Pimples are comedones, where excess sebum and dead skin cells are trapped in the pores of the skin. If the sebum continuously is unable to reach the skin’s surface, the sebaceous gland can be exposed to bacteria and become infected.

This can develop into an inflammatory state where pus – also known as inflammation – develops under the skin. When this happens, you get a small “bump” on the skin, which is an infamous pimple.

Phew! That was a tough round!

If you did not understand all of it, don’t worry too much about it, because it’s a difficult and complicated matter. I will try my best to make it even more “eatable” to you as we proceed.

What are sebum and dead skin cells?

While reading the paragraph above, I guess you tripped over the words sebum and dead skin cells. Many people do not know the meaning of these words.

Sebum is an acid secretion (fluid), and something we humans produce in our glands in the skin. We produce sebum to protect, soften and moisturize our skin.

You probably heard of dead skin cells before, and the definition is actually revealed in the name. It’s dead skin cells.

A person’s skin cells typically die every 28 days. You may have heard that dust primarily consists of dead skin cells? That’s true, and it’s just because we drop our dead skin cells.

When our skin cells do, they are probably replaced by new ones. However, some people find that their dead skin cells are not replaced with fresh new skin cells, and this is problematic. This can lead to clogged glands, blackheads and pimples. Additionally, it may make your skin gray and dull.

The easily-understandable answer to, what pimples are

I hope you’re still with me, and you got something of what I tried to explain. Pimples, and why we get them, is actually a complicated matter. Especially not when the description contains a bunch of complicated terms, most people never heard before.

Therefore, I think it’s best if we boil it down once again, to the simplest possible explanation of what happens, when we get a pimple.

A pimple is the result of an inflammatory state under the skin. The reason for the inflammatory state is the processes described before. Too much sebum means clogging of the glands, which is infected by bacteria, and then an inflammatory state, resulting in a pimple.

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What is acne?

First of all, let me calm you with the fact, that with the knowledge you have already gained about pimples, acne will be much easier to understand.

Acne is a skin disease, characterized by a large number of pimples. The outburst of pimples is often combined with a large number of blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts.

You can almost hear it in the name. Acne. Sounds rather unpleasant, doesn’t it?

I can assure you. It is unpleasant! The skin disease often requires medical treatment. Therefore, I advise you to seek medical counseling, if you suspect that you suffer from acne. Often, you won’t be in doubt, because acne is so visually outbursting.

So, acne is worse than pimples. A small number of pimples can often be cured with some good skin treatment, a healthy diet, and a healthier lifestyle with more exercise.

Summary – What have we learned so far?

If you are reading this, good job! You’re quite the reader!. That’s super cool! Remember to give yourself some credit.

Once you’ve reached this far, you know a whole lot about pimples and acne. Therefore, you will also find it easier to understand the difference between pimples and acne, than you would at the beginning of the article.

However, I’m also aware that you have received a lot of information for you to digest. Therefore, we’ll just summarize with an answer to the question you initially wanted to get answered.

What is the difference between acne and pimples? Pimples are part of the acne-disease, but, just because you have a pimple you do not necessarily have acne. Acne is a huge outbreak of pimples, while pimples are the result of an inflammatory condition under the skin.

Is acne pimples?

You probably have a qualified guess for this question.

What’s your answer?

Was it yes?

If it was, you’re partly right, because acne is, as mentioned before, an extreme outburst of pimples. Having a couple of pimples does not mean that you have acne. Acne often shows as more than “just” pimples.

Usually, pimples will be followed by whiteheads, blackheads, and cysts, if you suffer from acne.

Why do you get acne?

When you reach puberty, the production of testosterone increases at both men and women. When this happens, the increased level of testosterone stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. Sebaceous glands are highly concentrated in the face, chest, and back.

Some peoples sebaceous glands are extremely sensitive to testosterone. These are the people, which often is men, who suffer from acne in a degree that requires medical assistance.

While the production of sebum increases, the entrance of the sebaceous glands is narrowed, which makes it harder for the sebum to escape the gland. Unfortunately, the production of sebum does not stop, just because it’s clogged, which results in a sore bump.
The bump is then filled with water until the gland is destroyed. When the gland is destroyed, the sebum flows out beneath the skin, which results in an inflammatory pimple.

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How do you treat acne?

How you treat acne depends on the degree of outburst you’re experiencing. If the outburst is very bad, your doctor will probably refer you to a dermatologist.

I have seen many different types of treatment. Some receive treatment involving lotion for the skin, while other use medicine. Other receives a third type of treatment.

Treatment of acne is focusing on several of the things that influence the development of acne. For example, this could be the production of sebum, narrowing of the grand entrance or the very bacteria.

Acne treatment takes time, and one should expect that visible results won’t be available within six to eight weeks.

While receiving treatment for acne, the treatment will usually continue as long as your body produces pimple outbursts in a “bad” degree. Usually, your body won’t stop doing this before you reach your twenties.

You should never try to treat acne on your own. A correct treatment of acne requires medical expertise, so if you’re suffering from acne, it is very important that you go see your doctor and let him or her guide you in what to do in terms of treatment. Do not believe “miracle treatments” of some sort.

Why do you get pimples?

There is not one specific reason for why you get pimples. There are several. I have already told you about the different processes that cause pimples, but what is it that triggers these processes? The answer is, once again, several things.

I will now go through all the things that influence the creation of a pimple.

Does your diet affect your exposure to pimples?

Many people are convinced that pimples are caused nothing else than an unhealthy diet and lifestyle.

Even though several studies have been made on the subject, no one has never proven that unhealthy food like chips, candy, and fast food has a direct connection to the degree of pimples one experiences.

That said, this is not a free pass to eat nothing but sweets and unhealthy food. There are many reasons to mind your diet. Several studies have shown, that a healthy diet and lifestyle will increase your happiness, energy and lifetime.

Though, I should mention that a few studies have found some foods to affect the degree of acne for some individuals. For example, some studies have shown that drinking milk (cow-milk) can increase your chances of suffering from acne.

Source:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2836431/

Does milk cause pimples and acne?

If you’re suffering from pimples and acne, it might be wise for you to cut down on the milk your pour over your cereal every morning. Several studies have found that milk is a major reason for pimples, unclean skin and acne.

Back in 2005, Harvard School of Public Health made a study to find out if there is a connection between consumption of cow-milk and development of acne.

47.355 teenage girls participated in the study, which found that the girls who drank cow-milk, experienced that their degree of acne got significantly worse.

The scientists suggested, that the cause of milk bad influence on acne is to be found in the relatively high amount of hormones and bioactive molecules milk contains.

Therefore, you might find that it is cow-milk that stimulates the production of sebum in your glands, just like our own hormones do.

Source:
https://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(04)02158-9/fulltext

Does our genetics affect our risk of suffering from acne and pimples?

It fair to blame your ancestors, if you face gets infected by pimples and unclean skin the day before school-photos, a date or a night out? Or if you’re one of the unlucky individuals, who suffers from acne?

It actually is. Your genetics plays a major role in your exposure for pimples and acne.
If your parents suffered from pimples and acne, you have a higher risk of getting the same problem, compared to individuals with parents who did not suffer from it.

It is yet unclear why your genetics affects your exposure to acne and pimples, but it is a subject that many scientists are trying to figure out.

Source:
http://jddonline.com/articles/dermatology/S1545961618P0380X/1

How do I get rid of pimples?

No one likes having pimples. Therefore, the interest of how you get rid of them is rather big.

I will now give you four tips, that will help you deal with your pimples, so you can feel fabulous and confident.

1) Wash your face twice a day with a skin-friendly soap
Pimples are caused by på bacteria, therefore it might be effective for you to improve your personal hygiene. I recommend that you wash your face twice a day with a mild soap. The soap should contain a PH-value about 6,5 if you’re struggling with pimples.

When you’re sweating, it is very important that you wash shortly after you’ve stopped with the activity that made you sweat. Old sweat enhances the risk of developing pimples.

2) Never scratch your pimples, and don’t squeeze them!
If you scratch your pimples, you risk getting some nasty scars. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t look good!

Therefore, never start this nasty habit.

3) Live a healthy life
Even though there is no scientific proof, that unhealthy food causes pimples and acne, I still recommend that you consider what you eat and drink, before doing it.

If you repeatedly experience an outburst of pimples and unclean skin after eating chips, chocolate, or drinking alcohol and sodas, avoid it!

4) Avoid fierce cold, heat, and sunlight.
Sunlight can actually help you in the fight against pimples and acne for a while. Sadly, the sun is not a magic cure to pimples or acne, and as you probably know, too much exposure of the sun can cause sunburned skin and skin cancer.

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Five tips for using skin-treatment products

Besides using the tips I just gave you, it might be a good idea to combine it with high-quality skin-treatment products, to get rid of your pimples.

If you wish to combine skin-treatment products as a part of your treatment, here are five tips for getting the most out of it:

1. Skin care should never hurt or be uncomfortable!
Is your current skin care poking, cooling, burning or warming your skin? Then there’s something wrong!
The product is simply too hard on your skin if you experience any of the above things.

2. Avoid perfumes and dyes
Drop all skin care products that contain perfumes and/or dyes. This also involves skin care with ingredients like menthol, mint, citrus fruits, essential oils etc.

3. Look at the list of ingredients
When looking for your next skin care, choose one where the ingredient list contains many different vitamins, minerals, and assets. This makes your skin nourished by many different types of ingredients, rather than just a single one.

4. Focus on a single skin care routine
Your skin care routine does not need to contain 8 – 12 different skin care products, both morning and evening. But. water and soap are not enough either. If you use 2 – 3 skin care products in the morning and 3-4 skin care products in the evening, it should be more than enough. Focus on quality, rather than quantity.

5. Avoid masks, scrubs, and occasional treatments
You should prioritize skin care that cares and treats your skin every day, as it provides the best treatment and results.

Related Articles

What are pimples?

Why do you get whiteheads?

Related questions

Are pimples acne?
In a way, yes. Acne is an extreme outburst of pimples. Though, it is rare that you only have pimples if you have acne. Often, you will also have a lot of whiteheads, blackheads, and cysts, if you suffer from acne.

Recommended products against pimples and unclean skin

You are now equipped with the necessary knowledge of pimples, why you get them, and how to treat them. We hope that you now feel ready to take the fight up.

Underneath you will find a series of our own products, specially developed to treat pimples and unclean skin. If you want to give yourself the best conditions for a beautiful and healthy skin, use them!


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Mads Timmermann

Expert in beautiful skin and founder of Danish Skin Care



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