Hormonal changes that occur during puberty may cause acne.

Home Remedies for Acne

  • Cosmetics: Don’t be afraid to hide blemishes with flesh-tinted cover-ups or even foundation, as long as it is water-based (which makes it noncomedogenic). There are many quality products available.
  • Facials: While not absolutely essential, steaming and “deep-cleaning” pores is useful, both alone and in addition to medical treatment, especially for people with “whiteheads” or “blackheads.” Having these pores unclogged by a professional also reduces the temptation to do it oneself.
  • Pore strips: Pharmacies now carry, under a variety of brand names, strips which one applies to the nose, forehead, chin, etc., to “pull out” oil from pores. These are, in effect, a do-it-yourself facial. They are inexpensive, safe, and work reasonably well if used properly.
  • Toothpaste: One popular home remedy is to put toothpaste on zits. There is no medical basis for this. The same applies to vinegar.

Pimple vs. cold sore facts

  • Pimples contain pus, while cold sores contain clear fluid in blisters.
  • Both pimples and cold sores can spontaneously heal.
  • Pimples are caused by bacteria, while cold sores are caused by herpes viruses.
  • Symptoms and signs differ between pimples and cold sores. Significant differences are that pimples produce pus and occur mainly on the face and back, while cold sores produce blisters on the lips and in the mouth.
  • Pimples and cold sores are usually diagnosed clinically by a primary health caregiver without any testing.
  • Treatments for pimples include benzoyl peroxide and/or antibiotics, while treatments for cold sores include antiviral medication. Alternative medicines may be helpful.
  • The prognosis for pimples and cold sores is usually good.
  • It is possible to prevent or reduce the development of pimples and cold sores.

What is a pimple?

A pimple is usually a small, firm inflamed spot on the skin and has many other names such as zit, bleb, boil, carbuncle, and others. Some pimples may become large. A pimple is an inflamed area of skin with pus formation in the center, resulting from a bacterial infection of the oil gland that produces sebum.

What is a cold sore?

A cold sore is an inflamed blister (also termed a fever blister or oral herpes) on the lips and/or near the mouth, caused by infection with herpes simplex viruses (HSV-1 and HSV-2).

What are similarities and differences between pimples and cold sores?

Similarities between pimples and cold sores include that they both can heal without treatment, both have stages of development, both usually appear on the face, and both may cause embarrassment and/or social stigma.

The following table highlights differences between pimples and cold sores:

Pimples Cold Sores
Causes Localized bacterial overgrowth Herpes viruses
Locations Mainly on the face, chest, and back Mainly on the lips and in the mouth
Symptoms & Signs Pus in the center of the lesion Blisters contain clear fluid
Transmission Mainly noninfectious person to person Infectious person to person
Prognosis Some pimples heal with scar formation No scar formation with healing

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/24/2017

Next: What are causes and risk factors for pimples and cold sores?