What Are Blind Pimples? Dermatologists Explain How to Spot Them and How to Treat Them

by Rebecca Norris · Updated June 9, 2022
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Wondering what blind pimples are? Two dermatologists explain what makes them unique. Plus: how to get rid of blind pimples safely.

Have you ever had a pimple that you could feel but couldn’t see? If so, then you’ve experienced blind pimples firsthand. Unlike whiteheads and blackheads, blind pimples go largely unnoticed to the visible eye—yet to the owner, they can feel anything but.

Since they’re often hidden, it can be tricky to know exactly what they are—or how to get rid of them. We tapped two dermatologists to learn everything you need to know—from how to spot them to how to treat blind pimples. Read on to see their expert advice.

What Is a Blind Pimple?

“A blind pimple is a cyst or nodule that forms deep below the surface of the skin,” explains cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green, MD. She differentiates blind pimples from other breakouts that form in the hair follicles.

Although blind pimples start out rather invisible, ]the skin around them can become swollen, red, and irritated—especially when touched. In addition to commonly being painful, they’re often hard, as well.

Dermatologist Noelani González, MD, FAAD, says that beyond their appearance and feel, blind zits often last longer than blackheads and whiteheads. How long do blind pimples last? Typically, they’ll last a week or two, but they can linger under your skin for a few months—which is why it’s so important to talk to a professional.

Man applying acne-fighting treatment in the mirror to get rid of blind pimples

What Causes Blind Pimples?

Like blackheads and whiteheads, blind pimples are caused by a buildup of sebum, dirt, debris, and dead skin cells. The only difference is that the clog happens much deeper in the skin, which is why they become hard to the touch but invisible to the eye.

Whereas blackheads and whiteheads have a noticeable appearance, Dr. González points out that blind pimples don’t come to a head.

So, as much as you might think that trying to pop one is a good idea, think again. Blind pimples are nearly impossible to physically pop, or even relieve pressure from—which is why they become painful and inflamed.

How to Get Rid of Blind Pimples

Blind pimples aren’t fun to have, but here’s the good news: There are several easy ways to treat them.

Here’s how to get rid of blind pimples, according to experts.

1. Don’t Pick or Pop

Let’s begin with the number-one rule of thumb: Don’t pick at blind pimples—or any breakouts, for that matter.

“Since they don’t have a surface, picking at them will only cause more inflammation and can cause scarring,” Dr. González says.

Will a blind pimple go away by itself? Most likely, which is why it’s important to keep the area clean (read: hands-free). While waiting it out might feel like forever, you’ll be thankful you kept your hands off in the long run.

2. Apply Breakout-Fighting Topicals

Another way to get rid of an invisible pimple? Use active skincare ingredients. While blind pimples are different from blackheads and whiteheads, Dr. Green and Dr. González both share that you can alleviate them with topical solutions (Think: salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide—two star acne-fighting ingredients that can help reduce inflammation.) Applying these products to the affected area is one of the best treatments for blind pimples, according to experts. If you’re wondering how to prevent blind pimples, these ingredients can help. Using these topical solutions once or twice a week can help keep acne-causing bacteria at bay. You can also support clearer skin with a supplement, like HUM Nutrition’s Daily Cleanse, which contains a combination of detoxifying ingredients to help clear skin from the inside out.

Woman getting HydraFacial at dermatologist's office to treat blind pimples

3. Consult a Dermatologist for Professional Treatments

If your blind pimples persist despite using targeted topical treatments, Dr. Green suggests asking your dermatologist if antibiotics may be a better solution.

Otherwise, if they keep appearing, cortisone shots can be a helpful blind pimple treatment. (They’re especially effective if you’re wondering how to get rid of a blind pimple overnight.)

“If you’re suffering from long-lasting, persistent, or recurring blind pimples, cortisone injections from your dermatologist are recommended as a treatment to prevent damage to the skin and relieve discomfort,” Dr. Green shares.

“Additionally, an exfoliating procedure—such as a chemical peel or HydraFacial—can help treat and alleviate blind pimples by promoting more rapid skin cell turnover.”

Try these methods and get ready to say bye-bye to your blind pimple.


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