What Is The Difference Between Acne And Pimples?

Acne Vs. Pimples: Causes, Treatments And Tips

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Wondering difference between Acne And Pimples, and how their treatment is administered? Well, medically these two are same! As scientific name of a pimple is acne vulgaris, which occurs when hair follicles are clogged with dead cells and excess oil or sebum. It is a skin disease.

What Do Dermatologist’s Say?

  • Pimple is a term used in India, in popular culture, in place of an acne at its initial phase of growth; that is the micro comedone stage.
  • Acne is a lesion along with an inflamed hair shaft, which appears on the skin’s surface when the sebaceous gland gets clogged and infected.
  • It is caused by the deformity of the pilosebaceous gland. Factors contributing to the development of the acne are inflammation on skin and hair shaft, infected sebum underneath, plug like formation in dermis which is felt like pus over skin.
  • Acne develops in the form of blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, nodules and cysts depending upon its severity.
  • In most of the cases, acne will appear on the prominent areas of the body with dense oil glands (sebaceous glands) like face, shoulders, back, neck and chest.
  • It is quite common among teenagers and usually appears when they hit puberty. But it also occurs in adults too.
  • Hormonal changes like sudden increase in the production of androgen is the most common causes of Acne.
  • Severe acne outbreak can also result in acne scarring, which further damages your skin. Acne scars are the secondary damages that come from untreated acne. They can be treated by laser resurfacing, subcision and dermabrasion.
  • Lack of timely treatment of these pimples can lead to skin infections and further rise ahead to become papules, pustules, nodules or cysts.

Also Read: Safe And Effective Pimple Removal Treatment

Causing Factors Of Acne And Pimple

Skin is the reflection of your internal health and external environment. This is why pimples can be caused by so many different reasons. The common causes of pimples are discussed in detail below –

  • Excess Oil Production – The most common reason is due to excessive oil production. The skin has a natural method of providing moisture and lubrication to the skin in the form of sebum (skin’s natural oil). But, when the skin starts to produce more sebum than needed, it can lead to clogged pores which eventually causes a pimple. This excess oil production can be caused due to various reasons which are mentioned in the following points. Identifying the right cause is important to devise an appropriate route for treatment.
  • Hair Follicles Clogged By Oil And Dead Skin Cells – Our entire body is covered by hair. Some are visible and some are very light and faint. When hair follicles get clogged by sebum or dead skin cells, the skin pore cannot breathe properly, and this can cause pimples.
  • Bacteria – The body is covered in bacteria – some are healthy and necessary, while some are unhealthy and dangerous. The bacterium that lives on the skin surface that causes pimple is called Propionibacterium pimples (P. pimples). It can cause an infection which will contribute to pus formation in the pimples. The skin pore that is filled with dead skin cells, sebum, and dirt will clump together to form a plug. This plug is infected by the pimple-causing bacteria resulting is simple pimples, cysts, and nodules.

Also Read: Different Types Of Pimples & How To Avoid Them

  • Excess Activity Of A Type Of Hormone (Androgens) – When the body starts to produce more of androgen, which is a male hormone, the body undergoes several changes. One of these changes can lead to pimple breakouts due to excess oil production.
  • Medications – Strong medication like antibiotics, testosterone, lithium, and corticosteroids have shown to cause pimple breakouts. These medications put stress on the adrenal glands and can fluctuate hormonal levels.
  • Diet – The skin will show what we consume! Eating foods that are oily (fried Indian snacks, chips, doughnuts), sugary (soda, chocolates, sweets, packed fruits juices), and processed and unnatural food (instant noodles, microwave meals, potato chips, etc.) will cause your skin to produce more sebum. It will also lead to hormonal imbalance. All such reasons will cause pimples. Pimples can be controlled and prevented by consuming 2-3 litres of water and by eating a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, and fruits.

Also Read: Foods That Cause And Fight Acne

  • Stress – This is the worst cause for pimples as stress cannot be diagnosed easily. Stress can fluctuate hormones, break down the body’s repair mechanism, and cause an emotional upheaval. Take short mental breaks throughout the day and try simple breathing exercises to calm your nerves and de-stress your mind.
  • Pollution – Hard water and polluted air can fill your pores with impurities and dirt. Pollution is one the worst causes of pimples. You can protect your skin by covering your skin and using water filters for cleansing purposes.
  • Sweat – Exercising is important to clean and detoxify the skin pores. But if you do not wash away the sweat and stay unclean for long, it will congest your skin and lead to pimples.
  • Wrong Products Usage – Using skin care products that do not suit your skin type can lead to pimples as well. If you have oily skin and use products meant for dry skin, it will make your skin too oily and thereby cause pimples to flare up.
  • Cleansing Too Frequently – Yes, cleaning your face too often is also bad for you. Every time you clean your skin, the body needs to produce sebum to counteract the dryness (even if you apply moisturizer). This can cause the body to create more sebum, which can lead to pimples.
  • Sweet Tooth  Unfortunately pimples can be caused by eating sugary food. Sugar, especially white sugar causes hormonal imbalance and causes stress on the thyroid glands. When the body cannot tolerate the fluctuating sugar levels, it often breaks down, and pimples erupt on the skin’s surface.

How Do Dermatologist’s Treat Acne?

Treatment of acne begins with an investigation by a Dermatologist, to determine underlying cause attributing to acne. A holistic treatment plan must then be formulated, where-in both the aesthetic aspect and the root cause like hormonal imbalance are dealt with simultaneously. If the cause of acne is left untreated, it may further aggravate the skin condition.

Mild Acne Treatment –

  • Acne control peels comprising of plant extracts, are administered as the first line of treatment. Mild peel agents are used here to exfoliate and unplug the follicles.
  • It must be aided with a suitable oil-free moisturizer, non-comedogenic sunscreen, antiseptic face wash and a mild cleanser, as stated by your dermatologist.
  • The aesthetic results may appear soon, but the treatment for hormonal imbalance may take a while.

Moderate Acne Treatment –

  • Moderate chemical peels like TCA peel, comprising certain plant extracts are used to treat moderate acne in multiple sessions.
  • They can also be removed by cautery or diathermy, depending upon dermatologist diagnosis.
  • There can be certain topical medications given, along with the treatment.
  • The results are moderately quick but they are dependent upon individual skin type. In some people it may be seen quicker than in others.

Severe Acne Treatment –

  • Chemical peels like Glycolic peel, comprising of specific plant extracts, are used to treat them, in multiple sessions.
  • There have to be oral and topical medications along, to treat the root cause of acne over a period of few months.
  • Steroid injections must also be used for shrinking nodules, which would be determined by the Dermatologist.
  • The results may not be as quick as treating a mild acne, but eventually it comes as desired.
  • If acne is not treated holistically, it may result into acne scars.

Also Read: How To Remove Pimples From Face?

Treatment Of Acne Scar

Acne scars are the secondary damages to the acne, which is prominent in both male and female. These can be of different shapes and depth over the skin. And some specialized treatment must be administered to get rid of them. These treatments can be determined by your dermatologist. They include laser skin resurfacing, subcision, pixel fractional resurfacing, dermal filler injections and dermabrasion. Along with them, oral and topical retinoids, sulfur, topical bactericidal’s, hormonal treatments, etc would be given too. Your dermatologist would determine a suitable treatment based on several factors like depth of scar, areas scarred and more.

Also Read: 11 Powerful Home Remedies For Pimples

Tips To Keep Acne Or Pimple Away

Making certain lifestyle changes can also help you in keeping those pesky pimples and acne at bay.

  • Change your bed-sheets weekly.
  • Have a balanced and healthy diet.
  • Increase the intake of water and sugar-free fluids.
  • Change out of your work / gym clothes as soon as possible.
  • Take a shower to ensure that all the dust and dirt is removed.
  • Avoid excessive oily and spicy food items.
  • Wash your face at least twice a day with a mild cleanser and use moisturizer to keep it hydrated.
  • Visit your dermatologist, for, the quicker you treat, the easier it becomes to treat the condition.

Acne or pimples are medically same, and they need careful examination by the dermatologist to determine the root cause and specific course of treatment. Avoiding skin problems altogether, might not be possible, but getting the right treatment at the right time can help in controlling the problem. The earlier you attend to them, the faster is the healing process.

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About The Author

Kushneet Kukreja

Kushneet Kukreja

A postgraduate in Biotechnology from Kingston University and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition, Kushneet Kukreja is a passionate writer who works in close association with the dermatologists at our head office to generate valuable and scientifically accurate content for our blog.

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