Acne And Spots – Spot The Difference

Woman winking with clear skin

Acne. Pimples. Zits. Spots. There are so many names we give blemishes (there, we have another one), it can get confusing. One thing is certain – acne is not “just spots”.

So what’s the difference between acne and spots? Well, there are actually six types of acne spots, which we outline below.

When people refer to spots, they generally see them as a single or random spots that will usually settle after a while. In contrast, acne is seen as several blemishes that occur frequently and require some assistance (and time) to resolve. Acne also comes in varying levels of severity – from mild to severe.

What is acne?

Acne is a skin condition that can cause pimples (pustules), red spots (papules), whiteheads, blackheads and cysts on the face and body.

Acne is caused when tiny holes in the skin, known as hair follicles, become blocked. This can be caused by excess oil and when C.acnes (a form of bacteria) contaminate and infect the plugged follicles. We’ve got more information on what causes acne for those interested in the finer details.

What kind of acne do I have?

Acne impacts roughly 80% of adolescents and young adults. You are far from alone.

There are six types of acne:

1. Whiteheads

These (and blackheads) are on the mild side of the acne spectrum. Whiteheads are a non-inflammatory type of acne, which generally means they are not painful and do not cause swelling. Medical folk sometimes refer to them as closed comedones. They generally look like white spots or bumps.

2. Blackheads

These tiny flecks are uninfected, blocked follicles known as open comedones. And no, they are not trapped dirt – they are very similar to whiteheads, but open (interesting fact: when a whitehead comes into contact with air, aka oxidation, it darkens).

3. Papules

Now we’re moving into inflammatory territory. Papules are bumps under the skin’s surface. They have no visible centre and can be red, inflamed and sore.

4. Pustules

These guys look like bigger, angrier whiteheads. In fact, they are often confused with whiteheads. The difference is a whitehead is a blocked hair follicle while a pustule is filled with, yup, pus, thanks to the accumulation of immune and bacteria cells.

5. Nodules

This type moves us into the more moderate to severe end. Nodules are deep in the skin and have no visible head. They occur when clogged pores hurt tissues and cells deep within the skin’s surface.

6. Cysts

These form deeper into the skin than nodules. They are soft and large and can be red or white and are filled with pus.

What can I do about acne spots?

As you can see there are a few different types of acne, so your treatment depends on your skin. In our Acnecide Medicinal Face Gel and Face Wash, benzoyl peroxide is an ingredient which can combat blackheads and whiteheads. It kills up to 95% of the C. acnes bacteria, which is a leading cause of spots.

More moderate to severe forms of acne like nodules and cysts require professional advice and treatment. For those who find acne interfering with their day-to-day life, you may want to chat to your healthcare professional about a treatment plan as well.

It will take time to get acne under control, even mild acne (up to 4 weeks using benzoyl peroxide), but don’t worry – the main point is that it can be controlled.

And remember, if you are ever unsure on how to treat your acne, always speak to your pharmacist or doctor.

So there you have it – acne can be six different types of spots. But whichever name you give your breakout, know that you have options to combat it and to stop it from taking up too much of your life. If you’re interested in reading more about how Acnecide works to treat your acne, look no further.

What can I do to maintain my skin?

It is important to keep your skin cleansed and hydrated, to maintain its general health during treatment. This is why we have created the Daily Cleanser and Moisturiser. Even when your spots have disappeared, you can still keep using the Daily Cosmetic Skincare range to keep your skin cleansed, moisturised, and healthy.

Get into a routine and apply your cleanser, treatment and moisturiser consistently to help improve your results Consistency is essential in the battle against acne. So if you use Acnecide’s Medicinal Face Gel for your mild acne sand your spots have disappeared, that doesn’t mean you should stop using the Daily Cleanser and Moisturiser.

GB-ACC-2000037 December 2020



Writer and expert