Cyst vs. Pimple: What’s The Difference?

Pimples and cysts are two of the most common skin conditions you might experience at some point in your life. Due to their similar appearance, they are sometimes confused with each other, but the differences between pimples and cysts are significant and require a different treatment plan. Therefore, it’s helpful to determine what you are experiencing to address the issue properly: 

What Are Pimples?

Pimples, often caused by acne, occur when hair follicles are clogged with dead skin cells and oil. This can lead to a variety of end results, such as whiteheads and blackheads. Pimples can be experienced throughout life, even into adulthood, but they mostly affect teenagers due to hormonal changes. Pimples can appear on the shoulders, back, face, chest, or neck. Stress, along with specific types of food like those with a high glycemic index, have been proven to make pimples worse.

Symptoms of Pimples

  • Small red bumps
  • Crusting of skin
  • Pustules containing yellow or white pus
  • Painful bump

What Are Cysts?

Cysts might appear very similar to pimples as they appear as small bumps beneath the skin. They are often seen on the trunk, neck, and face but can appear anywhere. They are slow-growing and usually painless unless they break open and become infected, and they are formed by sacs forming beneath the skin, becoming closed by a mixture of sebum, dead skin cells, and keratin. If they become infected or painful, or you simply don’t like the appearance of cysts, you can seek treatment. Cysts often form when the body sheds its protective layer of cells, but these cells move deeper into the skin instead of shedding. It can also form due to an injury or irritation of the skin or an irritation of a hair follicle.

Symptoms of Cysts

  • Small round bump under the skin on the trunk, neck, or face.
  • Thick leakage from a bump that indicates a cyst is infected.
  • Infected or inflamed bump on the skin if skin is broken and inflamed.

The Difference Between Pimples and Cysts

Acne, like pimples, are different from cysts in several ways. Pimples can be immensely impacted by hormonal fluctuations, lifestyle factors like diet, and genetic predisposition. Pimples form in many cases due to clogged dead skin cells. On the other hand, cysts form from blocked or damaged sebaceous glands. Pimples tend to be inflamed, pus-filled, and red. Cysts are domed-shaped or round bumps beneath the skin and are firmer to the touch. They aren’t inflamed or painful unless they become infected. Pimples typically occur on the back, chest, and face or areas with rich oil glands and are painful in many cases. Cysts can form anywhere, including the trunk, face, scalp, or neck.

How Treatment Differs Between Pimples and Cysts

The differences between the way pimples and cysts form mean they have to be treated differently. Acne or pimples are typically managed with prescription medications, lifestyle changes, or topical treatments. Cysts have to be removed via medical intervention. This can include surgical removal or drainage. In most cases, surgical excision is required to ensure complete cyst removal and prevent additional growth.

How to Handle Each Issue: Visit us at Pennsylvania Dermatology Specialists

While cysts and acne or a pimple might share some similarities, they are formed differently, and they behave differently, meaning one causes pain and the other typically doesn’t. Subsequently, they have to be treated differently. Therefore, if you are struggling with growth and aren’t sure if it is a pimple or cyst, you should seek help from a skilled dermatologist to properly diagnose and then treat the condition. 

Contact us at Pennsylvania Dermatologist Specialists to schedule your consultation today. We are happy to help you determine what issue you are dealing with and will gladly create a treatment plan to restore your health. We are your best bet for a dermatologist in Bucks County or a dermatologist in Newtown, PA.

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