You just woke up, shuffled your way to the bathroom, and, like the good skincare enthusiast you are, you go to wash your face when you are met with a deep, painful blind pimple on the surface of your skin.
Um, excuse me? Where did this rude zit come from?
Welcome to the world of blind pimples, or cystic acne bumps. Blind pimples are the dreaded, “gift that keeps on giving”, type of pimple that loves to come and hates to leave.
Blind pimples can be frustrating due to their stubbornness, the pain often associated with them, and their inability to be popped.
Want to know more about this annoying kind of acne? Strap on in as we go over what blind pimples are and nine effective ways to get rid of them.
What are blind pimples?
So, what are these hidden pimples? Blind pimples are painful pimples that pop up (or down) underneath the skin’s surface.
They’re a super common skin condition that’s typically more severe than mild acne and show up as a very large pimple.
Since they are a deep blemish, they often require longer healing time than other forms of acne and leave acne scars.
They are often referred to as sebaceous cysts aka a pimple with no head.
This is the most common type of cystic acne.
This makes them stand out from other types of pimples such as:
- Whiteheads: Tiny white bumps that are inflamed and sore. Often filled with pus and have a white head at the tip.
- Blackheads: Common non-inflammatory open comedones that look like black dots.
- Pustules: Inflamed red bump that is pus-filled.
This severe form of acne is a painful lump that can either be completely hidden underneath the skin’s surface, or, they can be both partially under and partially above the surface of the skin.
Blind pimples often present in the form of acne cysts, or pimples under the skin. Blind pimples are often tender to touch and may be surrounded by redness caused by inflammation.
How to rid a blind pimple fast:
Hold tight, we’ve got plenty of treatment options for ya.
1. Adjust your diet
Like most health conditions, you probably aren’t surprised to hear that modifying your diet may play a role in preventing this type of acne.
We know, we know, yet another post about why you should limit cheese and chips and fast food.
We’re only telling you this to help you, we promise. This is likely the best long-term solution if you have severe cystic acne.
You can use all the OTC products you want, but foods that are processed, oily, high in dairy, or high in sugar content can actually lead to hormonal fluctuations that can cause an increase in sebum production on your skin.
The presence of this excess sebum can potentially lead to an increased risk of you getting a dreaded blind pimple.
To lower your chances of getting these annoying zits, you may want to limit your intake of foods that contain a lot of dairy, oil, sugar, and processed foods whenever possible.
You can replace those foods with colorful fruits and vegetables to lead to a more balanced diet!
This will make a surge of hormones far less likely.
Your healthy skin (& gut!) will seriously love you for this.
2. DO NOT POP A BLIND PIMPLE
“Say it louder for the people in the back!” But really, don’t try to squeeze hidden pimples.
Yep, ditch the tweeze-squeeze for this one. It’s not the time to do your very own DIY Dr. Pimple Popper episode.
With any type of acne lesion, whitehead, blackhead, pustule, papule, or cyst, attempting to pop it can actually make things worse!
This is especially true with blind pimples.
Blind pimples are so deep underneath the top layer of skin that, chances are, you won’t ever be able to mash them hard enough to get those suckers to drain any (yikes) pus.
And in the meantime, you will likely make the lesion angry, inflamed, and possibly even bigger!
Not to mention, while you are laser-focused on getting rid of this blind pimple as fast as you can, you may actually be creating a perfect environment for a scar to form.
Scars from attempting to pop these lesions can range from a dark spot that takes a while to fade, called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or even a little indentation in the skin that may be much more difficult to fix later down the road.
If at all possible, give the healing process some time, and try allowing the swelling to go down naturally to prevent the blemish from getting worse and to avoid any potential scarring.
3. Spot treatment
Okay, so you think you may have a blind pimple and you’ve managed to avoid popping it, now what? One of the best ways to rid this big blemish is to try a spot treatment.
One common over-the-counter, topical treatment option is benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide can be great at fighting bacteria that may be present in the area and also tends to dry out the pimple you’re treating.
It’s important to note that benzoyl peroxide comes in several different percentages ranging from 2.5% to 10%.
While it may be tempting to lather up your blind pimple with 10% benzoyl peroxide topical cream, the higher the percentage of benzoyl peroxide you use, while it may be more effective, the more drying and irritating it can be.
When considering topical treatments, you may choose to go the more natural route and reach for products that contain ingredients such as tea tree oil or raw honey.
Tea tree oil has natural antibacterial properties that can help fight bacteria that sometimes cause pimples.
If you choose to use products with tea tree oil, be sure to dilute the oil to avoid causing any potential irritation to the skin.
Both of these ingredients are a good option and can easily be found at your local drugstore!
One more effective ingredient for a monster zit is sulfur.
So ditch the overhyped toothpaste home treatment and go for one of these for the best course of action to tackle that painful bump.
4. Warm compress
When you first notice a new blind pimple, you may consider trying warm compresses.
This is one of the most popular acne treatments because the heat from a warm compress can increase blood flow to the area you are applying it to and potentially speed up the healing process.
If you choose to try a warm compress, start with a clean washcloth and some warm water. Be sure that the warm water is not so warm that it burns your face.
Make sure you use a soft cloth to avoid any discomfort.
Soak the clean washcloth in the warm water and gently hold it to the skin where the cystic pimple is for five minutes without peaking.
You can repeat this up to three times per day for the best results!
5. Cold compress
On the other hand, you may choose to reach for a cold compress when you first notice that cystic pimples pop up.
Cold compresses can help decrease inflammation and can also provide some pain relief to these sores due to the numbing effect they can provide which can make them a great home remedy.
If you decide to try a cold compress, wrap an ice cube or an ice pack in a clean paper towel.
Gently hold the ice cube wrapped in a clean paper towel to the skin where your cystic pimple is located for 2-3 minutes at a time, taking a minute break when needed.
You can repeat this up to 3 times per day as needed!
6. Try a topical antibiotic
You may consider trying a topical antibiotic to help get rid of your newest cystic pimple.
Topical creams can help fight off bacteria that could be contributing to your cystic pimples.
The most common prescription topical antibiotic prescribed for acne is clindamycin gel.
Your derm may have you spot-treat with a prescription that has clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide combined, or they may have you treat your whole face in hopes of treating current, and preventing future, breakouts.
7. Acne stickers can help blind pimples
A sticker for acne? Yep, you heard it right!
Pimple stickers have become more and more popular recently, and for good reason. They are an easy and effective treatment option for several different types of blemishes.
These pimple patches are often infused with zit-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and hyaluronic acid.
These acne stickers will soak up moisture and keep grime from getting on your deep pimple.
To make these fun pimple patches even better, they can serve as a barrier between your fingers, and your zit, helping prevent you from picking your blemishes!
An acne treatment made in heaven. Easily one of the best options we got.
When you are using an acne patch, be sure to cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser and make sure your skin is dry before applying the pimple sticker.
You may choose to apply the pimple sticker at night to kill two birds with one stone (hello, beauty rest) or you may decide to apply the pimple sticker during the day to potentially keep you from touching or picking your zit.
Either way, a zit sticker is a simple and fun way to try to fight your blind pimple breakouts.
8. Update your skincare routine
Something you can never go wrong with is vamping up your skincare routine with products that match your skin type.
Using a cleanser from trusted brands such as Cerave or Cetaphil can ensure you’re getting quality ingredients.
Plus, you can find these at typical drugstores.
Incorporating a good skincare routine may even help improve your hidden pimples or be a great plan for the prevention of blind pimples.
Whether your skin is oily, dry, sensitive, normal, or a combination of these types, finding a better skincare routine with products that match your skin type is always a good idea.
One ingredient that is typically beneficial for all skin types is a topical retinoid.
A chemical exfoliant, such as a topical retinol, increases cellular turnover which can help prevent build-up of dead skin cells on the skin surface.
Exfoliants can also be found in the physical form as well such as brushes and beads.
By preventing the buildup of excess dead skin cells/debris, you decrease your chances of getting clogged pores, which can often lead to unwanted zits.
Trying a chemical peel with glycolic acid every so often can reduce the amount of dead skin buildup on your skin and keep it clear from getting a pesky big pimple.
Just be aware, chemical peels can be too harsh for people with sensitive skin, so do research and find which one is best for you!
Adding in a new topical retinoid lotion (over the counter (OTC) or prescription strength) can be a great addition to your skincare routine to potentially improve your skin quality and, hopefully, prevent future breakouts.
You could also make monthly visits to your local esthetician for skin maintenance or light therapy.
While you may be able to create a pretty solid routine with over the counter lotions and creams, you may end up deciding you need the help of a derm provider to help treat your cystic acne.
9. See a dermatologist
Alright, so you’ve tried every single home remedy you can find and still no luck? Or, maybe this cyst is just getting out of hand and you want it gone ASAP?
Either way, it’s time to go see your dermatologist/healthcare provider.
Cystic acne can be chronic, and can even lead to scarring, so it is definitely not something to play around with if your home remedies are just not cutting it.
If you do go see the skin pros, here’s what you can expect:
They may decide to offer you steroids/cortisone injection that they inject into the cyst in hopes of providing relief and resolving the lesion within a few days.
Cortisone shots are often a quick and effective treatment option for those random, stubborn cystic zits. Another option they may discuss is an oral medication.
Just be aware that a corticosteroid shot could cause potential scarring afterward.
They may consider prescribing oral medications such as oral antibiotics (Tetracycline or Minocycline) , spironolactone, birth control pills, Accutane (isotretinoin), or other medications to help fight your acne or reduce overproduction of oil.
However, even though these antibiotics are effective, they can be very harsh on your body’s organs such as your kidneys.
It’s very important to look into these antibiotic options and do your own research on risk factors before committing to it as a treatment plan.
For maintenance, your derm may choose to prescribe you a topical retinoid medicine, such as tretinoin, to help increase your cellular turnover, prevent clogged pores, and prevent future breakouts.
When in doubt, don’t wait.
Make an appointment with your dermatologist. Seeing your dermatologist is the only surefire way to know that you are on the right track with treating your blind pimples.
Okay, so how do these blind pimples form?
Blind pimples are typically caused by excess sebum, or oil, on the skin or even dirt and dead skin cells that build up on the skin.
Oftentimes, changes in your hormones can increase your likelihood of getting these painful breakouts.
The sebum, dirt, and dead skin cells on the surface of your skin can get trapped under the skin leading to a cyst, nodule, or skin pimple deep under the outermost layer of your skin.
As tempting as it may be, you definitely do not want to attempt to pop these pesky pimples. These cystic zits will just get worse when you poke and prod them so keep those hands off!
We know it’s tempting, but I promise you will thank us later in the long term. Now, let’s dive into the main causes of these skin pimples.
What causes blind pimples?
Blind pimples often occur when someone is battling with a skin problem called cystic acne.
Acne cysts are often formed due to the presence of excess sebum, bacteria, and old skin cells getting trapped underneath the skin.
When sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cells get trapped underneath the skin, this can lead to inflammation and possibly the formation of a cyst or nodule.
Blind pimple: possible culprits
Let’s explain a couple of common things that make these bumps happen in the first place.
Blind pimple trigger foods
Now, we all have likely heard that our diet can lead to certain skin problems, including acne.
We love dairy, sweets, and carbs as much as the next person, but, the bad news is, these foods may actually be triggering your cystic acne.
Foods like cheese and candy are a known cause of affecting your hormones which can lead to an increase in sebum production which, as we now know, can ultimately lead to cystic acne.
We are not about to be the ones to tell you to skip out on a wine and cheese night or snacking on some candy during your favorite movie…
But, if you do struggle with cystic acne, it may be worth switching up your diet a bit in hopes of potentially preventing breakouts and revealing clearer skin.
Role of hormones in blind pimples
Yet another lovely cause of cystic acne is good ole hormones.
Hormonal fluctuations can cause acne breakouts including cysts, nodules, and other inflammatory lesions by causing an over production of oil.
Around a woman’s menstrual cycle, certain hormone changes occur that can lead to an increase in sebum production.
When this excess sebum builds up under the skin, with bacteria and dead skin cells, your skin may form a hidden pimple.
Unfortunately, it is not abnormal to notice skin pimples pop up right before or during your menstrual cycle.
We can’t forget another common, and not super fun, cause of hidden pimples, stress. Undergoing stress, or even lack of sleep, can cause hormonal changes and may also lead to these frustrating skin pimples.
People who have a genetic condition such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can also experience blind pimples.
In men, elevated levels of testosterone and androgen can lead to oily skin and big pimples as well.
Common age group
While I’m sure we would all love it if acne truly were just for kids and teenagers going through puberty, unfortunately, that’s just not the case.
While teens can definitely struggle with this type of acne, adults, young and old, can as well.
Like we mentioned before, hidden pimples are oftentimes associated with hormonal changes, and young teens to adult women know all about that world.
Most people DO experience more breakouts in their younger years due to extra oily skin.
That being said, it is important to realize that battling blind pimples won’t necessarily go away once you surpass those lovely puberty years.
And yet another not so fun fact about this type of pimple is that they often leave a pesky scar behind once they (finally) go away.
So, if you do struggle with blind pimples, it is super important to know how to treat them in the first place!
Blind pimple locations
While you really can get a pimple anywhere on your face, cheeks, chest, and back, this type of acne is most commonly found on the lower half of the face.
Skin pimples that are cystic or hormonal in nature are oftentimes found on your chin and jawline, to be more specific.
This type of acne can also be found underneath the chin, onto the neck, and even down near your groin.
If the blemishes are camping out on your chin or jawline exclusively, they are likely hidden pimples caused by too much sebum in these areas which could actually be due to hormonal fluctuations.
The most common affected area for adult women to find a painful hidden pimple lump is along the jawline.
Maybe it’s not a blind pimple?
Here are some other different skin problems/skin diseases that are possible suspects:
A lipoma is a fatty tumor that’s located under your skin. These can pop up throughout your life and are quite common.
Typically this fatty deposit is harmless and painless but they can grow to get pretty big in some situations.
Skin tags are small and usually painless bumps that occur on your skin.
Most times, they don’t require treatment unless you really want them gone.
There occur often in areas that experience a lot of rubbing such as the armpit or neck area.
These can easily be removed through electrocautery.
A boil is a common, painful lump that is caused by the infection of a hair follicle.
These are very similar to blind pimples and can grow to be quite big. These can typically be healed at home most times.
However, a cortisone shot can be used as a quick fix in dire situations.
A boil would also be known as a skin abscess.
Ingrown hairs are very common if you are someone who likes to wax or shave.
When hair is removed, the new follicle that comes up under the skin can get trapped and begin to grow under the skin.
This blocked pore causes irritation and sometimes the hair becomes infected, resulting in a red, painful bump.
Milia are tiny dome-shaped bumps that are typically skin colored bumps.
They usually form in clusters on the outer layer of the skin.
This skin condition typically doesn’t cause any itchiness or pain like a typical pimple.
Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that can show up as cold sores and inflamed red bumps around the groin area and mouth area.
Blind pimple verdict
At the end of the day, there is good news. While blind pimples can be annoying and frustrating, you are not alone and there is hope!
Remember, blind pimples are a type of painful pimple that pops up (or down) underneath the skin’s surface. Hormonal changes, diet, stress, and excess sebum on the skin are all common causes of this type of acne.
This acne nodule affects a wide range of age groups from teens to adult women and they typically pop up on the chin and jawline.
Some common remedies you can try at home include:
- Adjusting your diet
- LEAVING IT ALONE
- Spot treatment
- Warm compresses
- Cold compresses
- Topical antibiotic treatments
- Acne stickers with ingredients such as salicylic acid
- Updating your skincare routine
As always, when in doubt, don’t be afraid to make an appointment with your dermatologist.
Last but not least, whatever “bumps” in the road we may hit (pun intended), don’t worry. We are all in this together!
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