The Right Way to Detect and Treat Blind Pimples

by Rebecca Norris

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Wondering what blind pimples are? Two dermatologists explain what makes them unique. Plus: how to treat 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.

To learn more about them—including how to get rid of blind pimples—keep reading.

What are blind pimples?

“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, she mentions that the skin around them can become swollen, red, and irritated—especially when touched. In addition to being commonly painful, they’re often hard, as well.

Then, dermatologist Noelani González, MD, FAAD, says that beyond their appearance and feel, blind pimples often last longer than blackheads and whiteheads.

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.

Then, whereas blackheads and whiteheads are noticeable thanks to their 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 Treat Blind Pimples

While blind pimples aren’t fun to have, here’s the good news: There are several easy solutions to get rid of them.

According to the experts, here are three ways to help treat blind pimples.

1. Don’t Pick or Pop

Let’s circle back and 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.

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

While blind pimples are pretty 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.

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

3. Consult a Derm 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 blind pimples keep appearing, know that cortisone shots can help.

“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.”


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