This Is How to Treat Blind Pimples, According to a Dermatologist

Those deep suckers you can feel but not see are tough to treat—read this before you do anything.


Garrett Munce |

As I write this, I can feel it – the throbbing mass deep below the skin on my cheek. I can’t see it, but I know it’s there. What I have, my friends, is a blind pimple. And I’m pretty sure you’ve had one, too.

Related: Your Protein Shake Might Be Giving You Acne

Unlike their more run-of-the-mill cousins, you can’t see a blind pimple, but you can definitely feel it. To the touch, it feels like a little kernel under your skin, and it usually manifests with a painful throbbing or tightness that never lets you forget it’s there. On the one hand: out of sight, out of mind, right? Not so fast. Because you can’t see them (or pop them), they’re harder to treat. But, if they’re left untreated, they can last for weeks – which no one wants. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Here is everything you need to know about blind pimples and what to do about them.

What is a Blind Pimple?

“A blind pimple is another term for a cyst, which is a deep, inflamed pimple that does not have a connection to the surface of the skin,” says dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai. “In acne, oil glands become clogged, trapping oil within the follicles leading to inflammation. When this inflammation is deep and robust, a blind pimple develops.” Clogs leading to pimples can be caused by a lot of things – too much oil, too many dead skin cells, dirt and debris from the environment, and even wearing a mask (but please, don’t stop wearing a mask.) 

Related: 5 Hidden Causes Of Acne You Should Be Aware Of

How Long Do Blind Pimples Last?

“In some cases, blind pimples may go away in a few days, but in others, they last several weeks,” says Dr. Zeichner. Treating them properly can help shorten the time blind pimples stick around.

How to Treat a Blind Pimple

First, be patient, a blind pimple isn’t going to disappear overnight. Start with “combining benzoyl peroxide with salicylic acid and over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream,” says Dr. Zeichner. “This combination helps reduce inflammation, dry out the pimple, and lower levels of acne-causing bacteria.” He recommends mixing a tiny drop of each product in your hand, then applying the mix to the pimple. If the pimple is painful, try icing it to further reduce inflammation and decrease its size. After a few days, if that mix doesn’t work because the pimple is so deep in the skin, head to your dermatologist for a cortisone shot to zap it quickly.

What We Recommend:

Salicylic Acid:

Along with the salicylic acid, REN has added Maritime Pine and Thyme Complex to help soothe your skin, and prebiotic chlorella extract to promote a healthy skin balance. Apply twice a day, directly on the spot and surrounding area.

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REN Clearcalm Non-drying Spot Treatment

R 350

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This non-oily, powerful formula contains purifying Meadowsweet extract, Salicylic acid, and soothing Purslane extract. Plus, it has a transparent finish. Apply on clean dry skin.

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My Clarins Clear Out Targets Imperfections

R 300

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Benzoyl Peroxide:

Benzoyl Peroxide is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and dissolves dead skin cells, preventing pores from clogging up. Use it as a spot treatment no more than twice a day. And remember to use the appropriate high factor, broad-spectrum sunscreen when using this product.

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Benzac AC 5% Gel

R 140

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Hydrocortisone Cream:

Chat to a pharmacist at your nearest Clicks or Dischem and they should be able to point you in the right direction. It’s great to keep stock of it because it’s not only a blind pimple blaster, but hydrocortisone cream can be used for  insect bites, poison ivy, eczema, dermatitis, allergiesrash and itching.

Related: 6 Ways to Cover Up Acne Scars

How to Pop a Blind Pimple

“I never recommend attempting to pop, pick, or poke a blind pimple – this inevitably leads to more harm than good because the pimple does not have a connection to the surface of the skin, attempting to pick it will just increase your risk of an infection or scarring,” advises Dr. Zeichner. Instead, if you’re tempted to pick the pimple, especially red, angry ones, cover it with a pimple patch. “It forms a protective barrier over the skin and will keep your hands off,” he says.

Related: How to Fix Body Acne and 4 Other Common Summer Problems

Skin Republic’s Spot Clear Salicylic Acid Patches are transparent and contain both salicylic acid and tea tree to help clear blemishes overnight. Bonus: the volcanic ash helps draw out dirt and impurities to prevent those pesky pimples from coming back.

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Skin Republic Spot Clear Salicylic Acid Patch

R 65

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These patches absorb any secretions and promote healing. Perfect if you ignored that voice in your head (and the advice from Dr. Zeichner) and started popping, picking, or poking.

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Medic Acne Patches

R 24.95

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Vice Reversa Pimple Patch is an innovative micro-needling skincare patch that targets pimples in their development stage, helping to neutralise and flatten them before they fully develop. This just might be the holy grail of blind pimple treatments.

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Vice Reversa Pimple Patch

R 380

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Can You Prevent Blind Pimples?

Aside from proper skincare, like washing your face twice a day and using a non-comedogenic moisturiser (which means it won’t clog your pores), there isn’t much you can do to prevent these deep suckers. “The development of blind pimples is determined by your genetics,” according to Dr. Zeichner. If you get them regularly or they don’t seem to go away even with treatment, he recommends making an appointment with a dermatologist for evaluation.

Looking to Upgrade Your Skincare Routine?

For Cleanser, Try Cetaphil:

This is one of Cetaphil’s best-sellers and for good reason. It’s mild, non-irritating, non-drying, gentle and it won’t clog your pores. Did we mention it was originally formulated for dermatologists? You can’t go wrong adding this step to your skincare routine.

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Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

R 130

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For Face Wash, Try Neutrogena:

Neutrogena’s Spot Controlling Oil-Free Facial Wash is specially made with a concentrated formula containing 2% salicylic acid to help clear away and prevent spots from developing. Blind pimples be gone!

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Neutrogena Spot Controlling Oil-Free Facial Wash

R 127

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For Lotion, Try Kiehl’s:

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Lotion is packed full of ingredients that will work overtime to ensure your skin is in its best condition. Imperata Cylindrica (Desert Plant Extract) will help your skin store and retain moisture and Antarcticine (Glacial Glycoprotein Extract) protects your skin against dryness. Your skin will remain moisturised without clogging your pores.

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Kiehl's Ultra Facial Oil-Free Lotion

R 430

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For Moisturiser, Try Jack Black:

Jack Black’s Clean Break® Oil-Free Moisturizer is lightweight which means it won’t clog your pores. Some skincare standout ingredients are the organic white tea and sea kelp that deliver antioxidant protection, as well as Niacinamide which helps improve skin tone and texture

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Jack Black Clean Break® Oil-Free Moisturizer

R 630

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This article originally appeared on Men’s Health US

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