Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Viddhi Patel (Journalist) on 18th Jan 2021

Are blemishes and pigmentation the same?

Are blemishes and pigmentation the same?

Imperfections on the skin take a toll on your confidence, and you are not alone to shudder at the sight of a blemish. Most of us have experienced skin changes, be it the complexion or blemishes.

What these changes and protrusions bring about is a blow to your self-esteem, self-confidence, and can make you socially awkward and conscious.

So we look at two of the most common skin concerns; pigmentation and blemishes. We are quite familiar with skin acting up, but we are not familiar with blemishes, dark spots, acne, rashes, etc. Having said this, one cannot be bogged down by all this. How you treat these skin conditions can make or break your skin.

Let's start by understanding the difference between blemishes and pigmented spots. 

Understand pigmentation and dark spots

Melanin, a skin color pigment produced in excess by melanocytes (skin cells), leads to hyperpigmentation. This melanin has two important functions. To protect your skin from the sun and also give it color. The interdependence of these two creates problems for your skin's appearance. When your skin is exposed to harmful UV light, your skin produces more melanin as a defense mechanism, leading to sunspots.

Regardless of UV exposure, when your skin gets damaged, injured, impacted with acne, or even a scratch, melanin comes in to protect the skin. This leads to dark spots, medically referred to as hyperpigmentation.

Moreover, many other reasons may lead to dark spots like hormonal changes, infections, and autoimmune diseases or allergies.  

Blemishes vs. Pigmentation 

These two skin conditions impact your appearance with their mere existence, and they are quite common in the myriad of all skin alterations. Hyperpigmentation can be considered as a form of blemish, considering the term blemish covers in its umbrella any skin-related flaw. Hence, a blemish is not merely a discoloration. Rather, it covers everything that has your skin looking unsightly.

Pigmentation or dark spots are a form of discoloration due to changes in your skin's melanin composition. On the other hand, Blemishes can be considered to be dark spots along with other conditions like blocked pores and acne.

Blemishes also include blackheads, papules, pustules, rashes, bumps, etc. Pigmentation, on the other hand, means simply dark spots that are not painful with no irritation. These dark spots or blemishes, if you may, might as well be a result of a breakout that you didn't bother to care much about.  

Read more about the blemishes sitting on your face!

The unsightly existence of blemishes is not the only thing bad about it. It has also been mistaken for many other skin conditions, but not everyone knows what blemishes are.

A blemish is an imperfection that is prominently visible on your face, like any spot, discoloration, mark, or flaw on the skin. Simple, right?

But blemishes are also referred to as acne. So, that makes acne a form of blemish. So moving forward, we look at blemishes as acne bumps, marks, or spots that are noticeable. The good thing about blemishes is that they are benign. However, you notice it, and you keep noticing it, and this does torture you, so being aware and knowing how to treat them is your responsibility towards yourself.

Now we know that blemishes are not confined to acne or only dark spots. Further, we will look at all the types of blemishes our skin gets exposed to.  

Blemishes cover the following skin conditions: 


As we saw above, dark patches or uneven skin tone resulting from your skin producing more melanin than is required. And this overproduction may be due to sun damage, acne, or hormonal imbalance. 


Acne vulgaris is caused by various reasons like hormones and changing sebum levels. Acne appears when oil, bacteria, and dirt block your hair follicles.

Acne can be bifurcated into inflammatory and non-inflammatory. There are various treatment options available that can dramatically improve acne breakouts. However, acne often leaves behind marks, scars, and dark spots, and these marks are also referred to as blemishes.  

1. Comedonal acne 

Blackheads and Whiteheads. 

The non-inflammatory type of acne appears when oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells clog your pores. Closed pores that are white or flesh-colored are whiteheads and open pores with filled dirt form blackheads.  

2. Non-comedonal acne 

Papules and pustules.

More commonly referred to as pimples, blemishes are small skin lesions that form when oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells run deep into the skin. This results in inflammatory acne. Pustules are pus-filled pimples and are moderate.   

Nodules and cysts.  

These run deeper than papules do and are painful. Typically larger than usual pimples, these run the deepest into the skin and are severely painful. These pimples leave scars once they are healed.  


Since blemishes are any number of visible flaws on your skin, rashes like a skin color change and texture change are also a blemish.

These rashes may be a result of hot weather, sun exposure, or dry skin. However, there are many other reasons for rashes to develop. It is advisable that you treat this rash with care and not harsh products. The color changes can be treated with pigment targeting active ingredients.  

Age spots.  

Also called liver spots and lentigines, these are dark spots as a result of sun exposure. This blemish type is a form of hyperpigmentation and can be treated with actives like hydroquinone. 


When damage runs deeper than just the epidermis, i.e., the skin's outer layers, it leaves a scar. Wounds, burns, infections, any damage can lead to scarring. Even prodding, picking, or popping your pimples lead to scarring.


These are marks on your skin from birth, a mole or a stain-like patch that is brown, gray, or black. Some of these harmless marks often stay around for pretty much your entire life, while some fade away with time.  


Also a form of hyperpigmentation, melasma is a skin condition with brownish patches resulting from pregnancy, UV exposure, or hormonal changes. Kojic acid, azelaic acid, and hydroquinone are quite effective in treating this blemish. 

Skin cancer. 

While blemishes are benign and not life-threatening, the appearance of a blemish may also indicate skin cancer at times. Since skin cancers have various appearances and not one color to identify them, only a doctor can tell if the blemish that has been taking a toll on your appearance will take a toll on your health in the future.

Know your blemishes by appearance.

You can know what kind your blemishes are and how to treat them based on their color.

Red blemishes are pimples and pustules, allergic reactions, rosacea, and ingrown hairs that turn into cysts.

Brown colored blemishes indicate hyperpigmentation, birthmarks, or even melanoma as this skin cancer causes brown or gray patches to form.

Black blemishes are blackheads, but it may also be suspected of malignant melanoma as it has darker blemishes.

White blemishes are mostly fungal infections. 

Treating the emotional baggage called blemishes.

When you know the cause behind your disturbing blemishes and also identify them, it makes treating them easier.

Suppose it's acne that's bugging you. In that case, acne medication like benzoyl peroxide, retinoids, salicylic acid will help curb the excess sebum and clear out the pores killing the acne-causing bacteria.

Salicylic acid 2% by beminimalist cuts down the excess oil and removes blackheads by gently exfoliating. The formula penetrates easily and clears out the clogged pores of all the impurities.  

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If it's pigmentation, then actives that target melanin like hydroquinone, etc., would work wisely for you to brighten the appearance and fade your dark patches.

Alpha arbutin 2% + hyaluronic acid 1% works on reducing dark spots and rids your skin of the blemishes that cover your beauty. The serum helps you move towards brighter, even skin. 

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Keep skin alterations at bay

Amp up your sun protection game.

A broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or above), protective clothing, hat, sunglasses, etc., help you protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays, not allowing them to damage your skin.  

Follow a skincare regimen 

Follow a skincare regimen to keep away from pesky blemishes and keep the basics in mind—cleansing, toning, moisturizing, the actives (your target treatments), and exfoliating.  

Minimalist's word of advice

Imperfections are normal but not doing something about them and letting them take away your peace of mind is not. It would help greatly if you made efforts to adopt healthy and hygienic skincare practices.  

  • Get enough sleep. 
  • Exercise. 
  • Eat healthy. 
  • Follow a skincare routine that is well taught considering your skin condition and
  • follow it religiously.

See a doctor when your blemishes seem to change color, size, or start to bleed, as these may indicate skin cancer. Severe acne types also need a doctor's care to be treated effectively, not to leave behind scars and damage. 

Summing it up

Blemishes covers in their umbrella numerous irregularities on your skin given they are visible. While hyperpigmentation (or dark spots) is just another type of blemish.

Acne, marks, spots, scars, etc., are all blemishes caused due to different reasons and treated differently. Knowing what caused them and what kind of blemish you have developed is important while treating it.

The best bet you got at keeping blemishes at bay is following a skincare routine religiously without skipping any of the basics.