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Difference Between Pimples & Fever Blisters

by
author image Michelle Ernst
Michelle Ernst has been writing since 2000. She published a critical essay in "Annual of the Association for Mormon Letters" in 2004. She also wrote two athletic grants that were funded on behalf of the Because We Care Foundation of Lehi, Utah. She holds a bachelor's degree in behavioral science from Utah Valley University.
Difference Between Pimples & Fever Blisters
Take ownership of your own health. Photo Credit couple faces isolated image by Pavel Losevsky from Fotolia.com

Pimples and fever blisters are unsightly, uncomfortable and universally unwanted. However, though they might look alike and share some common characteristics, they are significantly different from one another. Because mistaking one for the other could result in improper treatment, you should familiarize yourself with those differences.

Fever Blisters

Difference Between Pimples & Fever Blisters
Most people get infected with HSV-1 during infancy or childhood. Photo Credit children image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com

According to the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, fever blisters are small, red, fluid-filled sores. They usually occur outside of the mouth, anywhere from the nose to the chin. Fever blisters are fairly prevalent among the general population because they are a symptom of the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), an infection that is highly contagious and so widespread that the NLM estimates "most people in the U.S. are infected with HSV-1 by the age of 20."

Stages of Fever Blisters

Difference Between Pimples & Fever Blisters
Be aware that the virus will lie dormant between outbreaks. Photo Credit smile image by Ivanna Buldakova from Fotolia.com

Dentalgentlecare.com identifies five stages of outbreak for fever blisters. It starts with a tingling sensation beneath the skin. Next fluid-filled blisters will appear. After they rupture, the blisters will leave behind shallow, weeping sores that are very contagious and possibly painful. Once the fluid has drained, a crust will develop over the sore. That crust will eventually be replaced by a series of scabs, each one smaller than the one preceding it, until they are finally gone, leaving behind healed skin. The entire process takes approximately two weeks.

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Pimples

Difference Between Pimples & Fever Blisters
Breakouts of pimples typically last through adolescence. Photo Credit autumn portrait of 2 teenagers image by Galina Barskaya from Fotolia.com

Medicalnewstoday.com defines pimples as "small lesions or inflammations of the skin." Pimples are the result of a normal biological processes going awry. When pores become clogged, the oil that normally drains onto the skin's surface becomes blocked. If bacteria beings to grow, a non-inflamed skin blemish, a microcomedone, will develop. If the microcomedone remains blocked, the pore wall will rupture and a pimple will form. Like fever blisters, pimples are frequently found on the face, although breakouts can also occur other places, such as the chest and back.

Important Differences

Difference Between Pimples & Fever Blisters
The more you know, the safer you will be. Photo Credit smile image by chinatiger from Fotolia.com

The primary difference between fever blisters and pimples is that one is a symptom of infection, while the other is not. Furthermore, although fever blisters are painful, contagious and incurable, they follow a predictable course of outbreak and resolution. Pimples, on the other hand, are generally painless, noncommunicable and tend to dissipate as you leave behind the teenage years. They do not, however, follow a predictable time frame in resolving. In other words, a pimple will remain on the skin until the contents of the pore have made their way to the surface, however long that takes. Also, while fever blisters usually do not leave behind scars, severe outbreaks and/or improper treatment of pimples can result in enlarged pores and scarring of the skin.

Treatments

Difference Between Pimples & Fever Blisters
Be sure to seek the counsel of your physician. Photo Credit doctors desk with a stethoscope image by Keith Frith from Fotolia.com

Although HSV-1 cannot be cured, there are some over-the-counter and prescription antiviral medications that can ease the discomfort of an outbreak of blisters. For pimples, the best treatment is prevention, with a proper diet and a good skin care regimen designed for your skin type. There are also several over-the-counter products available to treat occasional breakouts. For questions or concerns, always consult your health provider.

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