Here's The Real Difference Between Blackheads And Acne

A blemish is a blemish, isn't it? Whenever you see a strange spot on your skin, you most likely assume it's a pimple of some sort but don't dig any deeper than that. Interestingly, there's a lot of confusion around pimples and acne. In fact, a lot of people confuse pimples with the term acne, and assume that they're two interchangeable words. However, that isn't actually the case. As per Verywell Health, both pimples and blackheads are forms of acne, but each type of blemish develops differently and for a different reason. 

Acne is the umbrella term used to describe a number of facial blemishes, including pimples and blackheads, as both are technically forms of acne. As per Healthline, understanding the type of blemish (or the type of acne) you have is important when it comes to treating the issue, so taking the time to understand the distinction between a pimple or if you've got blackheads is worthwhile. 

Now that you know that both pimples and blackheads are specific types of acne, let's look at how you can spot the difference between the two.

Spotting the difference between pimples versus blackheads

While both pimples and blackheads are forms of acne, they can look very different. What makes things even more complicated is that, as per Verywell Health, pimples aren't a one size fits all blemish. In fact, there are lots of different types of pimples which further confuses things. 

A pimple that has a red bump on the skin is known as an acne papule (via GoodRx). As the spot develops, it may for a head that's white or yellow and filled with pus. If it does develop a head, it is then called an acne pustule, but it's worth noting that not all papules turn into pustules — each spot is different.

A blackhead on the other hand has a black or brown colored head and look like a dark spot in the skin — not on top of the skin like a freckle but actually in the skin. Blackheads can range in size, while some blackheads are tiny and barely visible, others are much larger and more obvious.

How do pimples and blackheads develop?

As per Verywell Health, both pimples and blackheads develop differently. Pimples are caused by oil and dead skin becoming trapped in a pore, with this plug of debris stopping the pore from being able to open properly. As your sebaceous glands continue to pump oil into the clogged pore, it becomes red, sore, and inflamed. This is because the oil can't flow out like it usually would do.

Interestingly, blackheads do develop in a similar way to pimples. A blackhead occurs when a plug occurs within the follicle but instead of developing deeper in the pore, it develops closer to the skin's surface. A lot of people confuse the black spot with being trapped dirt, but as per Healthline, it's actually the plug of oil that's become black because it's been oxidized. The reason a blackhead doesn't swell is usually because it doesn't cause the follicle wall to break, unlike a regular pimple.