Keloids Vs. Pimples

Fact Checked

iInnerVisionPRO/iStock/Getty Images

Keloids and pimples both affect the appearance of your skin but are different dermatological conditions. An outbreak of pimples often is called acne, and the individual bumps might be called zits, whiteheads, blackheads or blemishes. Before you can effectively treat or prevent these two conditions, you will need to understand the different physical symptoms and causes of each one.


Pimples develop when pores get clogged with dirt, makeup, dead skin cells or excess skin oils. Bacteria feed on these materials and cause inflammation and a buildup of pus under the skin. Hormonal changes can make acne more likely, so teenagers and pregnant women often experience outbreaks of pimples. Keloids develop as an excessive growth of scar tissue, so they occur in response to skin injury. A pimple that damages the skin can cause a keloid to develop, but they also can develop at the site of burns, wounds, piercing sites, scratches, surgical cuts, or chickenpox lesions. There is a genetic component to keloid development, so you are more likely to get them if a family member had them. Hispanics, African-Americans and Asians are more prone to keloids.


Pimples look like a raised, red or pink bump on the skin surface. The center of the bump might have a white top, called a whitehead, or a black solid area in the center, called a blackhead. If the infection is deep within the skin, the pimple might appear cyst-like and feel hard to the touch. The larger and deeper the pimple, the more likely it is to scar or cause a keloid. Keloids look like a large lumpy or ridged growth on the skin, and they occur at the site of an injury or scar. They can be red, pink or flesh-colored.


Pimples are a temporary condition, although you can develop a severe outbreak that lasts for months. In most cases, pimples go away on their own over time, although severe acne can leave scars. Keloids, on the other hand, do not go away unless specifically treated, although they might shrink in size and flatten over time. Treating individual pimples typically involves using over-the-counter topical solutions to reduce the swelling and clean the area. A severe acne outbreak might require the use of prescription topical medication or oral medication. Keloid treatments include surgical removal, laser removal, steroid injections and cryosurgery., but keloids often return after removal.


Keeping your skin clean by washing your face twice a day is the best defense against pimple formation. You also can use over-the-counter acne cream with benzoyl peroxide or salycilic acid to dry up excess oil. Showering after exercise and avoiding tight-fitting clothing also can help prevent pimples. Keloid prevention is difficult, especially in people who are genetically prone to them, but applying a pressure dressing for 23 out of every 24 hours after surgery or injury can help minimize keloid formation. Applying imiquimod cream at the site of injury also might help prevent keloids.