NECHGEAR has affiliate partnerships (including Amazon). These do not influence editorial content, though we may earn commissions for purchases using our links. Clicking the device names, images or buttons will redirect you to the product listing (on Amazon, or other sellers) where you can find more product details. Learn more
Pimples, zits, acne, breakouts. None of these words spark any particular joy when brought up and discussed.
Many people are using these three terms interchangeably, they aren’t the same thing. And understand the difference between these terms could be critical to get you healthy and clean skin once and for all.
Here’s are few basic facts about acne, zits and pimples:
Acne is a most common skin condition, and zits and pimples are just symptoms of this condition.
Pimples and zits are not the same, but they are acne lesions that form when dead skin cells, oil and bacteria clog the pores of the skin.
These were just basics. Here is all you need to know about the main differences between acne, zits, and pimples.
What is Acne?
First and foremost, we must address the existence of the word acne.
Acne is a condition that impacts nearly one in five individuals in the United States, but it also lacks a unified, standardized definition.
It’s most often associated with the oily, blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples found on your face, but it also occurs on other areas of your body, including your back, shoulders, chest, back of the neck, and head.
According to Dr. Carla Marrone, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai, “Acne starts on the face but can develop anywhere on your body that has oil glands.“
Acne is the most common skin condition in the world and is extremely common on the face. It’s a buildup of oil and dead skin cells that form pustules, red bumps, or whiteheads that produce pus.
The most common spots for acne to occur are the jawline, under the chin, and the forehead. It’s typically treated with oral or topical medication.
Zit vs. Pimple – What Is The Difference
Zits and pimples are two different forms of acne but some people use the two words interchangeably.
Zits are little bumps that appear on your skin. In fact, that’s actually what they are called! Your skin “buds,” which means that the top skin cells form one and the bottom skin cells form the other. That makes up your skin, aka your skincone.
A zit is a little bump on the skin caused by inflammation or infection. They’re no fun, but you can get rid of them pretty quickly.
A zit can be a side effect of a serious condition like acne, pimples or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
It’s not you. Zits can also be caused by a diet full of greasy fast food and too many sweets.
Zits can be a sign of stress. Sometimes your skin just does it.
A pimple is an unproductive part of your skin that gets infected, becomes septic, or starts to fester, says Dr. Reichen Williams, a New York dermatologist. Pimples are typically caused by bacteria – think common culprits like strep throat or what you catch from your kid’s friends.
They can get inflamed and swollen, and will typically form a white head on top of your skin.
To keep things super basic, a pimple is a bump or pustule on your skin caused by inflammation or infection.
They can be painful, but they can also be very annoying. Pimples can also be a sign of stress.
They can be an allergic reaction to something, and they can also be signs of hormonal changes (and/or dry skin, some acne conditions, and other skin issues).
But why do my zits or pimples get so big, red and pus-filled, and what can I do about it? Acne and pimples are caused by tiny collections of germs called bacteria. They can invade our skin and spread like a virus to other areas, causing swelling, pain, and extreme irritation.
Speaking about pimples, they usually fade in a few days, but can also be treated buy products like Benzoyl peroxide cream.
Zits can also fade naturally. Particularly severe zits can also be treated with cortisol or salicylic acid.
Pimples and zits cannot be completely prevented. However, they can be lessened by using soap-free face cleanser or astringent, oil-free moisturizer, and yogurt face masks.
Causes of Acne
Acne is actually a tricky skin condition because, for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t have any single cause.
In fact, acne is actually the result of many different factors, some of which are in your control and some of which are not.
When a young person’s skin gets more acne-prone, we often think it’s a defect of theirs (we’ll call it a pore problem).
However, it’s a condition of your skin, not of yours, and therefore, if you can take steps to treat it, you will.
Treatments for Acne
There are many treatments available, each with different goals and benefits.
Some of the most common include spot treatment (find the correct formulation for your face and skin type here), spot treatment with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, Neocutis gel, oxybenzone, zinc oxide, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, lactic acid, green tea, vitamin E, hydrocortisone, calamine lotion, evening primrose oil, pumpkin seed oil, salmon oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, and human-grade honey.
Facial exfoliators are also incredibly useful in preventing acne. They help remove dead skin cells and, in doing so, encourage fresh, younger-looking skin.
It’s important to choose one that is gentle and won’t irritate or dry out your skin. If you want a natural alternative, an apple cider vinegar or green tea-based exfoliator can be effective.
Acne vs. Zits vs. Pimples
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what these three entities are, let’s clear up some confusion.
Acne, pimples, and breakouts are, for the most part, different issues that are caused by the same underlying problem: inflammation.
While acne results from inflammation and too much oil and dirt from your skin getting into your pores, zits happen because your skin has been inflamed and irritated, which results in more acne.
Breakouts happen when your body produces too much oil and or cholesterol.
Acne usually grows on your forehead, chin, nose, cheeks, and chin, and it usually forms when your body’s skin-thinning hormone, which controls the growth of your skin cells, remains high.