Difference Between Acne and Pimples, and the Role of Demodex Mites in Both of Them

acne and pimple

Although pimples and acne are two separate terms, sometimes people use them interchangeably. Acne is a blanket term that applies to many skin lesions such as whiteheads, blackheads, papules and pustules, cysts, and nodules. However, people usually call pustules acne. Still, even if you consider any tender lumps on the skin to be pimples, acne and pimples are quite different. Acne is an inflammatory skin issue that affects the outer and middle layers of the skin, as well as hair follicles and sebaceous glands. But pimples are actually a sign of this dermatological issue. To put it another way, any pimple that occasionally appears on your skin is not acne. But acne is always accompanied by pimples.

Acne is one of the prevalent skin issues that impact most individuals at some point. Some develop a few pimples, but others suffer from more severe conditions. Although acne happens less commonly than temporary pimples, it is still a widespread skin issue that influences 9.4% of the world’s population. Furthermore, acne is associated with a considerable financial burden for nations. In the US, for instance, the cost is over 3 billion dollars a year in terms of treatment and loss of productivity. 

Both acne and pimples are more common in puberty but still can influence individuals of all ages.

This article explains the difference between acne and pimples, their causes, risk factors, and the relationship of Demodex mite with these skin lesions.

Definition of Pimple

Pimple is an unscientific word that indicates purulent swellings on the skin. These lesions result from skin holes blockage, in which viruses, bacteria, fungi, and a parasite called Demodex mite trap, proliferate, and produce waste substances that form pus. 

Pimples: Why Do They Happen

It is not important whether you have acne or not; if you have pimples, all are made by one mechanism: skin pore blockage.

There are tiny openings on the skin from which hair strands originate, sweat reaches the surface, and the sebum produced deep in the skin comes out. Any reason that causes the pores to become blocked can make dead skin cells trapped in the holes instead of being shed into the environment. Skin oil and other waste substances cannot find their way out and accumulate inside these tiny pores. This provides germs and skin parasites such as Demodex mites with a food supply to feast on and proliferate. Slowly these waste materials cause the outer layer of skin to bulge, resulting in pimples.

Acne and Pimples Risks

Although the risk factors for both of them are almost the same, some key causal differences help you better comprehend your skin condition and become enabled to take the most efficacious method to address your concerns. 

Microbial contamination can cause pimples. Furthermore, other factors like heredity, excess sebum production, environmental agents, food, mental health, and hormonal imbalances are involved. On the other hand, the skin pores may get clogged by makeup and skin care products, as well as a kind of skin pest called a Demodex mite, which we will address more in the following parts.

On the other hand, acne is a more severe disorder that affects people with a genetic predisposition and hormonal imbalance. Studies also have revealed that people with oily skin are more likely to develop acne.

In the next part, we outline some of these risk factors in more detail.

Cutibacterium (Propionibacterium) Infections

The anaerobic bacterium Propionibacterium acnes appear to have an important role in creating acne lesions. This kind of germ is a natural inhabitant of the hair follicle. But under favourable circumstances, such as acne-prone skin, its density can grow out of control.

Once the skin holes get blocked, anaerobic circumstances or a lack of oxygen inside the follicle, along with sufficient food supplies, allow it to increase. After some time, the wall of the extended follicle ruptures and its contents spills out into the skin, causing immune cells to respond. This is when the pimple is created.

Change in Hormone Levels

Hormonal changes in adolescence, polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid disorders, pregnancy, etc., perform a crucial role in skin breakouts. Many women worldwide are pretty familiar with at least one pimple popping up every month, coinciding with their menstruation. 

The impact of hormones in generating pimples is more by increasing sebum production. Too much oil seals the pores and greases the wheels for acne production. On the other side of the coin, sebum is good food for microbes involved in producing acne, including Demodex mites.

Food Habits

“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 investigations do not support this opinion, some individuals think they are more prone to produce pimples when consuming oily or fast foods. What has been proven is that some carbs and sugars, soda, white bread, white rice, and cake, may aggravate acne. And chocolate? The jury is still out. However, if you are prone to pimples, you should modify your food habits.

Demodex Mites

Demodex mites are tiny eight-legged beings that live near or in your oil glands and hair follicles. They are only 0.3-0,5 millimetre long, and their bodies are semi-transparent. That’s why you cannot observe them without a microscope. However, despite their small body, they can affect skin health, causing and worsening pimples and acne.

These skin parasites live in your pores. However, they are not bound just to one area and crawl between the surface and the deep layers of the skin numerous times a day. They can produce myriad complications that finally lead to the follicles’ closing and trigger pimples.

  • These mites can physically obstruct the pores, as well as their inner ducts, and start the process of acne emerging.
  • Demodex mites discharge inflammatory substances that can increase inflammation and lead to pimples and acne.
  • The Demodex trunk is a vector for bacteria, fungi, and other harmful germs that play an influential role in generating pimples.
  • These parasites release agents that provoke the immune system and set up reactions that intensify pimples and acne.
  • Similar to bacteria, Demodex mites get stuck inside the sealed pores. They feed on the sebum accumulated there and help to provoke pimples by generating toxic substances.

It seems that Demodex mites can rarely cause acne on their own. Still, they perform an essential role in exacerbating the condition and helping to develop resistant pimples and acne.

Demodex Stops Pimples from Getting Healed

In addition to their role in triggering and worsening acne, these mites seem to be a barrier to acne treatment. Here we review the main mechanisms.

What They Hold inside Their Bodies 

Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics to manage severe acne. As discussed before, bacteria have a key position in acne development. Thus, it makes sense to use antibiotics to target them on the skin. Still, if your skin is affected with Demodex mites, the bacteria they carry within their bodies spread out on the skin once they are dead and exacerbate acne. Antibiotics do not harm Demodex, and may even make their genes resistant. Antibiotics also can’t kill the bacteria they carry within their stomachs. 

That’s why in the case of Demodex, the best strategy is to attack the parasites themselves to remove them and what they carry in one step.

PDT and SDT sprays, the unique products of Ungex, are exactly formulated for this purpose. They help you get rid of your persistent pimples by targeting Demodex. These products remove both the mites and the harmful germs they carry.

Pro-Inflammatory Substances

Another function of Demodex mites that counteracts acne healing is the pro-inflammatory substances they release. 

Acne is an inflammatory disorder, and obviously, the Demodex-secreted stimulant reduces or stops the healing process. In this case, there is a vast population of them living on the skin, acne remedy gets remarkably challenging. So if you have stubborn acne, it is good to estimate the population of these mites on your skin. If they are too much, you have to seek a way to eliminate them first.

Evaluating Demodex Mites Population

The mites’ microscopic scale makes it hard to define their population. Almost all adults have a population of them living on their skin. While they keep a low profile, their number per unit area grows as one becomes older.

Although Demodex mites infestation generally remains asymptomatic, once they proliferate, they can play a part in provoking, progressing, worsening, and preventing acne healing, as well as many other skin and hair issues.

One method physicians usually adopt to estimate the Demodex mites population is to count them under a microscope. They remove a thin layer of the skin using a kind of adhesive tape and count the hunted mites under a lens. If the mite number is more than five per square centimetre, Demodicosis is diagnosed. 

Although the mentioned test is beneficial, its result is not entirely correct and may underestimate the parasite population. Demodex usually crawl down deep into the skin, and that’s why you can not find them all by superficial sampling.

Online Demodex Test

Fortunately, there is a more plain sailing way to count the mites on the skin. Demodex parasites show themselves with some symptoms and grow under certain conditions. By monitoring these symptoms and assessing the risk factors for Demodex infection, one can determine their population with reasonable estimates.

At Ungex, we have developed a nice, reliable test that helps you estimate the population without going through aggressive procedures. Online Demodex Diagnostic Test consists of several multiple-choice questions with instantly available results. Years of practice and clinical investigation support the correctness of this quiz. So you can take it with confidence and trust the results.

If your test reveals a medium, high, and very high density of Demodex mites, you should find a way to remove them. SDT and PDT sprays are excellent choices for combating these mites. You can apply them to your skin to eradicate Demodex parasites. If you adhere to the instructions and continue to utilise these products for a few months, you will see a notable improvement in the Demodex population and its related issues.

Want to Wipe Away Demodex with Cleansers? No way!

It doesn’t matter how many times a day you clean your skin with detergents; Demodex will not wipe out. So, do not expect to omit them by repeated washing and using harsh cleansers. This wrong approach does not eliminate them but breaks the skin barrier, setting the stage for these mites to develop and harm you more.

However, this is only one piece of the cake! Detergent components usually present a good food supply for these mites and assist them in gaining nourishment and proliferating. Only clean your skin when it is dirty. Otherwise, plain water is enough to wash it. The cleansers you use should be mild, herbal, and free of irritants and chemical elements. DDC is an excellent option for cleaning your skin. You can use this shampoo on all skin parts, including the scalp, face and body. It is astonishingly gentle on the skin, and its long-term use is not associated with any side effects.

Besides, DDC doesn’t feed the mites. So it does not help them increase their population. Just spray a small amount of DDC on damp skin, massage your skin with your fingertips, and then wash it off.


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