Acne vs pimples: What are the differences and why they matter

The skin can be a complex organ to understand, but we have all the answers you need in the acne vs pimples debate!

The skin can be a complex organ to understand, particularly when words are used interchangeably and different skin conditions have similar symptoms. You may be wondering, is a pimple the same as a spot? And is acne the same thing too? We have all the answers you need in the acne vs pimples debate!


Acne vs Pimples?

Acne and pimples are not the same thing. Pimples and spots, however, can be used interchangeably. The key difference to understand is that acne is a condition, and pimples/spots are a symptom of that condition. Those with ‘normal’ skin types can experience pimples from time to time, and it does not mean they have acne. Acne sufferers will experience pimples, but often more severely than just one or two. 



Pimples occur when a build up of excess sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria clogs up the pores. The term ‘pimples’ encompasses several types of spot, such as blackheads and whiteheads. Pimples are a symptom of acne, but not a skin condition alone. Pimples should only have minimal redness and swelling. If you are experiencing greater inflammation, and pimples that persist, it is more likely to be the result of acne. 



Acne is a skin condition, not a symptom. Sufferers will likely experience clusters of raised red spots across their face, chest or back. Acne in its mildest form is categorised as fewer than 20 whiteheads or blackheads, less than 15 inflamed bumps, or fewer than 30 total lesions. A few pimples are not enough to constitute an acne diagnosis. 


Why is it Important?

It is important to know the difference between the two, as the necessary treatment will vary. Acne-prone skin requires a consistent, targeted approach to keeping skin clear. Individuals experiencing occasional pimples can often keep their skin in its best condition by following a simple skincare routine.