Know your breakouts: Difference between acne and pimples

Skin breakouts can be frustrating—and sometimes, they just won’t go away. If your skincare routine has zero impact on those stubborn zits, then you should rethink your approach. Begin by getting to know those bumps on your face. Are they just pimples or the beginnings of severe acne? 



The ‘how’ of breakouts

Notice how your skin gets greasier and stickier as the day progresses? That happens because the sebaceous glands beneath your skin produce an oily substance called sebum. This substance then travels along a canal-like structure called the follicle and ends up at the pores on the skin’s surface. 

Sometimes, the sebaceous glands will produce too much sebum. What happens next? Excess sebum and dead skin cells block the pores, and clogged pores become the breeding grounds for bacteria. The bacteria remain trapped under the skin, resulting in infection and inflammation. This may cause the follicle to expand and rupture, leading to breakouts like pimples.

The skin produces excess sebum for many reasons. Fluctuating hormones are a big factor. Hormone fluctuations during puberty, around menstruation, and in times of stress are often blamed for those breakouts. Genetics, humidity, sweat, greasy cosmetics, and certain medicines could also trigger an increase in sebum production.

Differences between acne and pimples

The words ‘acne’ and ‘pimples’ are used interchangeably when discussing skin breakouts. However, they are not the same thing. Acne is a skin condition whereas a pimple is one of its symptoms.

Acne is a long-term skin condition that is marked by frequent breakouts. Whiteheads and blackheads are symptoms of non-inflammatory acne. Meanwhile, inflammatory acne results in pimples as well as nodules and cysts, depending on the severity of the condition.

  • When the acne is mild, pimples appear in the form of papules or pustules. Papules are reddish bumps that have no pus. Pustules, on the other hand, are raised bumps that contain white pus.
  • Nodules and cysts may form when the acne is severe. While both are large and painful lumps beneath the skin’s surface, cysts also contain pus.

Treating acne and pimples

Tackling those pimples is not enough, for they are just the symptoms of an underlying acne problem. To eliminate breakouts, you have to combat the acne too. And that requires some tender loving care.

Treat the acne and eliminate pimples with a regular (and simple!) skincare routine.

Find your way to beautiful skin in just a few easy steps.

Step 1: Wash your face with a mild cleanser at least twice a day. This will clear the oil and grime.

Step 2: Use a toner to remove excess oil build-up and clear the pores. Toner can be a handy weapon in your fight against acne. 

Step 3: Invest in an acne treatment product. Try something gentle, like the plant-based Clearica Anti-Acne Cream. Use after your cleanser-and-toner routine to fight multiple acne symptoms—clogged pores, redness, bacteria, and acne spread. It also contains antioxidants that refresh your skin. 

Step 4: Make sure to moisturise afterwards. Overly dry skin will increase sebum production, once again leading to clogged pores and acne. 

A skincare routine is just one part of the picture. Your lifestyle holds another key to acne-free skin. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, get six to eight hours of sleep every day, work in some exercise, and find ways to destress.

And now, here is a list of things to avoid:

  • Don’t use makeup and moisturisers that make your skin feel greasy. Shop for oil-free products instead.
  • Sun exposure could aggravate your acne. If you must head outside, slather on some sunscreen and wear a hat.
  • Try not to touch your skin too frequently. Also, resist the urge to squeeze or pop those zits as it might lead to scarring. You may even end up spreading the bacteria, thus leading to more breakouts.
  • Hair products like oil and gel could also irritate your skin. Tie your hair or use a headband to keep the hair off your face.
  • Excessive smartphone use could transfer bacteria from the phone to your skin. A pair of good headphones is a quick fix, allowing you to stay connected without irritating your skin.

Consult a dermatologist if your acne is severe. The doctor may prescribe topical and oral medicines to treat your acne. Laser treatment, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels are sometimes used to eliminate stubborn acne that does not respond to other forms of treatment.


While the occasional pimple may disappear on its own, chronic acne needs attention. If not treated properly or in time, acne could lead to infection and scarring. So, don’t ignore those breakouts. Timely action could help you find your way back to clear, blemish-free skin.