Although acne and pimples are two different terms, some people use them interchangeably. Acne is an umbrella term that refers to a wide range of skin lesions such as blackheads, whiteheads, papules and pustules, nodules, and cysts, but people usually call pustules acne. However, even if we consider any inflamed bumps on the skin to be pimples, acne and pimples are still different. Acne is an inflammatory skin concern that involves the middle and outer parts of the skin, hair follicles, and oil glands. But pimples are actually a sign of this complication. In other words, any pimples that appear temporarily on your skin are not acne. But acne is always accompanied by pimples.
Acne is among the common skin conditions that affect most people at some point. Some grow a few pimples, but others go through more severe conditions. Although acne is less common than occasional pimples, it is still a prevalent skin problem that affects 9.4% of the world’s population. Additionally, acne is linked with substantial financial costs for nations. For example, in the US, the cost is over 3 billion dollars per year in terms of treatment and loss of productivity.
Acne and pimples are both more common in adolescence but can affect people of all ages.
This article discusses the difference between acne and pimples, the cause of each, the risk factors, and the relationship of a skin parasite referred to as Demodex with these lesions.
What Is a Pimple?
Pimple is a non-scientific and unclearly defined term that refers to purulent bumps on the skin. These lesions are caused by skin pores blockage, in which bacteria, fungi, viruses, and Demodex mites trap, multiply, make waste materials that altogether form pus.
How Pimples Form
It does not matter if you have acne or not; if you develop pimples, all are formed by one mechanism: skin pore-clogging.
There are tiny pores on the skin through which hair grows, sweat comes out, and the oil produced deep in the skin reaches the surface. For whatever reason, the holes become clogged, and dead skin cells get trapped in your skin instead of being shed into the environment. Sebum and other waste by-products cannot find their way out either and collect inside this cavity. This provides a good supply for bacteria and parasites such as Demodex mites to feast on and grow. Gradually these waste products cause the surface of the skin to bulge, resulting in pimples.
Acne and Pimples Risk Factors
Although the risk factors for both are almost the same, there are some key causal differences that help you better understand your skin condition and become empowered to choose the most efficacious solution to address your issues.
Microbial contamination can cause pimples. In addition to infection, other factors like genetics, excess oil production, environmental factors, diet, mental status, and hormonal imbalances are included. Besides, the skin pores may get blocked by cosmetics and skincare ingredients, as well as a kind of parasite, referred to as Demodex mite, which we will discuss more in the following sections.
Acne, on the other hand, is a more severe condition that affects people who have a genetic predisposition and hormonal problems more than others. It has also been found that people with extensive excess sebum production are more prone to acne development.
In the next section, we describe some of these risk factors in more detail:
Propionibacterium: How Does It Fit The Bill?
The anaerobic bacterium Propionibacterium acnes seems to have an influential role in producing acne lesions. This kind of bacteria is a regular resident within the hair follicle. But under the right conditions, such as acne-prone skin, its population can grow out of control.
Once the pores get obstructed, an anaerobic environment or a lack of oxygen within the follicle, along with adequate food sources, allows it to proliferate. After a while, the wall of the stretched follicle ruptures and spills into the dermis, causing white blood cells to react. This is when the pimple is formed.
Hormonal changes that occur in early puberty, polycystic ovary syndrome, pregnancy, etc., play an essential role in skin breakouts. Many women are quite familiar with at least one inflamed bump popping up every month, coinciding with their menstrual cycle.
The effect of hormones in causing pimples is more through increasing oil production. Too much sebum seals the pores and sets the stage for acne. On the other hand, it is good food for microorganisms involved in acne, including Demodex mites.
“It seems that for many, the cure for acne is at the end of their fork, not in a prescription pad.” – Mark E. Hyman.
Although research does not confirm this idea, some people believe that they are more prone to develop pimples when eating greasy foods. What has been proven is that some carbohydrates and sugars, soda, white bread, white rice, and cake, can trigger acne. And chocolate? The jury is still out. However, if you are prone to acne, you need to keep an eye on what you eat.
Demodex mites are microscopic eight-legged organisms that live near or in your sebaceous glands. They are only less than half a millimeter long, and their bodies are semi-transparent. That’s why you cannot see them with the naked eye. However, despite their tiny body, they can negatively affect the skin, causing and exacerbating pimples and acne.
These parasites live inside the skin pores. However, they are not steady at their place and can move between the surface and the depth of the skin several times a day. They can develop several complications that eventually lead to the follicles’ closure and trigger breakouts.
- Demodex can physically block the skin’s tiny holes, as well as its internal duct, and start the process of pimples popping up.
- These parasites secrete provocative substances that can raise inflammation and lead to pimples and acne.
- The Demodex body is a safe vector for bacteria, fungi, and other destructive microorganisms that play an effective role in causing pimples.
- Demodex mites discharge agents that trigger the immune system and start reactions that exacerbate pimples and acne.
- Like bacteria, they get stuck in closed pores. They feed on the oil accumulated there and help to cause pimples by producing harmful substances.
It seems that Demodex parasites cannot cause acne on their own. However, they do play an important role in worsening the condition and helping to create resistant pimples and acne.
Demodex Mites Online Quiz
Demodex Mites Prevent Acne from Getting Healed
Beyond their role in triggering and exacerbating acne, these parasites seem to act as a barrier to acne treatment. Here we discuss the central mechanisms.
What They Carry Inside
Dermatologists often prescribe antibiotics to treat severe acne. As mentioned before, bacteria have a core role in acne pathogenesis, So, it makes sense to employ antibiotics to address this issue. However, if your skin is infected with Demodex mites, the bacteria they hold within their hard skeleton spill out on the surface once they are gone and aggravate acne. Antibiotics do not affect Demodex, and they may even develop resistance mechanisms. Antibiotics also have no impact on the bacteria they hold within their guts.
That’s why in the case of Demodex infection, the best approach is to target the parasites themselves directly to eliminate them and what they hold in one step.
PROCUTiN, the unique product of OZiDEX, is precisely formulated for this mission. It helps you get rid of acne by targeting Demodex. This product removes both the mites and the harmful pathogens they hold.
Another role of Demodex that prevents acne healing is the pro-inflammatory chemicals they release.
Acne is an inflammatory complication, and evidently, the Demodex-released stimulant slows down or stops the process of healing. When there is a huge population of them thriving on the skin, acne treatment becomes remarkably challenging. So if you have persistent acne, it is good to assess the population of Demodex on your skin. If they are too much, you have to find a good way to remove them first.
Estimating Demodex Mites Population
Demodex mites’ microscopic scale makes it challenging to determine their population. They live in small numbers on almost all adults while they keep a low profile, and their number per unit area increases as one gets older.
Although Demodex mites infection generally remains asymptomatic, once increased, they can play a role in triggering, developing, worsening, and preventing acne healing, as well as many other dermatological issues.
One of the approaches doctors usually adopt to estimate the Demodex mites population is to count them under a lens. To do this, they remove a thin layer of the skin using adhesive tape and count the trapped parasites under a microscope. If the mite population is more than five per square centimeter, the Demodex infection is diagnosed.
Although the microscopic test is helpful, it is not quite accurate and may underestimate the parasite population. Demodex usually goes deep into the skin, and that’s why many of them are not trapped by superficial sampling.
Demodex Online Diagnostic Test
However, there is a more straightforward way to count them on the skin. Demodex mites manifest themselves with symptoms and thrive under certain circumstances. By examining these symptoms, as well as evaluating the risk factors for Demodex infection, one can accurately estimate their population. At OZiDEX, we have made a nice, accurate test that helps you assess the population without going through more aggressive procedures. The Demodex Mite Online Diagnostic Test consists of a number of multiple-choice questions with immediately available results. Years of experience and clinical observation support the accuracy of this quiz. So you can safely take it and trust the results.
If your test shows a medium, high, and very high density of Demodex, you need to pursue a solution to remove them. SDT and PDT sprays are excellent options for fighting these mites. You can spray them on your skin to eliminate Demodex. If you adhere to the instructions and continue to apply these products for at least three months, you will notice a significant improvement in the Demodex population and the related symptoms.
Can You Wipe Demodex by Over-Cleansing Your Skin?
No matter how many times a day you wash your skin, Demodex will not go away. So do not try to get rid of them by frequent washing and using harsh detergents. This wrong approach does not harm them but damages the skin barrier, paving the way for these mites to grow and hurt you more.
This is only one piece of the cake! Detergent ingredients usually provide a good food supply for Demodex and help them gain nourishment to proliferate. Only wash your skin when it is foul. Otherwise, plain water is sufficient enough to cleanse your skin. The detergents you use should be gentle, natural, and free of irritants and chemical substances. DDC shampoo is a great option for cleansing the skin. You can use this shampoo on all parts of the body. It is incredibly gentle on the skin, and its long-term use won’t cause any complexity.
Furthermore, DDC shampoo is free of nutrients the mites require. So it does not feed them and does not help increase their population. Just spray a small amount of it on damp skin and wash it off with water after a light massage with your fingertips.