Prevent And Treat Painful Blind Pimples With These Tips

If only your acne was invisible, that would make everything better, right? Once you deal with blind pimples, you realize that couldn't be further from the truth. According to Healthline, blind pimples are a type of cystic acne trapped deep under the skin. These bumps don't have a head like many other types of acne do, making them harder to spot (hence their name). However, you'll likely be able to identify blind pimples by their hallmark tenderness and irritation. "Unlike blackheads and whiteheads, blind pimples are a bit deeper under the skin, and there is no escape route for this collection of sebum, dead skin, and bacteria, so they tend to become more inflamed and painful than blackheads and whiteheads," Dr. Peter Young, dermatologist and medical director of Nurx Dermatology, explained to Women's Health.

Blind pimples might not respond to your usual acne-fighting protocol, like slapping on a pimple patch. Yet letting a blind pimple linger without treatment is "more likely to cause an atrophic scar, which is like a crater or an ice-pick scar," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Neal Schultz told Cosmopolitan.

The key to conquering blind pimples is a combination of preventative measures and tried-and-true treatment options. The best place to start is to find out what might be causing these pesky bumps.

Hormones are a common cause of blind pimples

If you've ever been hit with a breakout around your period, you know that hormones can cause acne. Blind pimples are no exception, according to Cleveland Clinic. Menstruation, pregnancy, puberty, and other hormonal changes can set off the release of sebum (your skin's natural oil), which, combined with bacteria and dead skin cells, can clog your pores. Before you know it, you have a nasty blind pimple (or several) that won't go away.

Besides tracking your cycle or other hormonal fluctuations, you can also study where the blind pimples are popping up to determine if your acne is hormone-related. Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist, told that bumps in the lower third of the face are often triggered by hormones.

While you may have seen numerous hacks for balancing your hormones on TikTok, some experts advise you to skip the viral trends and visit a doctor instead. "The only truly effective way to prevent cysts from developing is to use prescription medications that decrease oil production from the inside out," Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a board-certified dermatologist and the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, revealed to Byrdie. Dr. Zeichner suggests treatments such as birth control pills and spironolactone, both of which you can get a prescription for from your dermatologist or gynecologist.

Lifestyle habits can trigger blind pimples too

You've heard it before: A poor diet, lack of sleep, and high-stress levels are bad for your health. It might come as no surprise that these lifestyle factors could also be the culprit behind your blind pimples. The American Academy of Dermatology Association cites multiple studies that suggest a low-glycemic diet could reduce acne breakouts. It also points to a 2005 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology that found a possible link between dairy milk and acne. Specifically, researchers discovered that teen girls who regularly drank skim milk were 44% more likely to suffer from acne.

Poor or insufficient sleep can also lead to blind pimples and other types of acne. As WebMD explains, a frazzled, sleep-deprived system releases more cortisol, a hormone that can trigger pimples. Cortisol is also pumping through your body when you're mentally stressed. "CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone) is produced in the brain and is responsible for telling your adrenal glands to increase cortisol production during stressful times," Dr. Joshua Zeichner shared with MindBodyGreen. "CRH also has an impact on sebaceous glands in increasing oil production." In other words, cortisol and the hormone that helps regulate it rev up oiliness in the skin, potentially leading to acne flare-ups.

Though building new habits takes time, shaking up your diet, following a regular sleep schedule, and getting stress under control could put an end to painful blind pimples.

Tweak your skincare routine

From washing your face to slathering on moisturizer, your skincare routine is meant to keep your complexion healthy and free of stubborn bumps. Unfortunately, the wrong products — or a lack of the right ones — might trigger annoying blind pimples. First up: Watch out for hidden pore-cloggers. The easiest way to do this is to opt for skincare formulas with "noncomedogenic" written on the label, which means they're free of ingredients that plug up pores and cause acne. As Healthline points out, however, this term isn't regulated, so just because something says it's noncomedogenic doesn't guarantee it'll work for your skin.

For blind pimples in particular, Dr. Corey L. Hartman, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology, told Prevention that "you want a routine that will cleanse, moisturize, and protect the skin, along with one or two additional steps to help regulate sebum production and reduce the amount of bacteria on the skin's surface, especially if you are acne prone." He suggested trying a face wash with acne-fighting benzoyl peroxide, as well as a retinoid or retinol.

Note that most spot treatments won't be necessary in your skincare regimen, at least not when it comes to tackling blind pimples. As esthetician and brand founder Renée Rouleau shared with Elle, "You want to avoid using traditional drying spot treatments because they cater to treating surface blemishes (pustules and whiteheads) so they don't get deep within the skin where the treatment is needed."

Don't pop blind pimples

Despite the standard "don't pick" advice echoed by practically every dermatologist ever, it's possible to safely pop a pimple in some situations. With that said, blind pimples are one type of acne spot you never want to squeeze. "As uncomfortable as they are, you should not try to pick a cyst at home," Dr. Joshua Zeichner advised Byrdie. "It will inevitably lead to more inflammation and potential infection or scarring. Trying to pick but not reaching the cyst itself traumatizes the outermost skin layer. At the very least, you will end up with a scab that will take one to two weeks to heal, and treating the cyst [will be] more difficult."

Cleveland Clinic agrees, warning that squeezing a blind pimple will only make matters worse. Every time you pick and prod at the bump, the underlying oil and bacteria get pushed deeper into the skin, meaning it'll be even harder to get rid of later. And FYI, blind pimples that aren't properly treated can hang out deep in your skin for months. To be safe, keep your hands off those tender spots to avoid accidentally prolonging their lifespan.

Add a little heat

Blind pimples can be a literal pain, which is why a warm compress might be just what you need to soothe your skin. But warmth doesn't just feel good — it might actually shrink those annoying, deep zits. "Warm compresses encourage the pus from a blind pimple to come to the skin surface and form a head, which ultimately turns a deeper blind pimple into a regular surface level pimple which is easier to get rid of," Dr. Peter Young told Women's Health.

Cleveland Clinic suggests warming a clean washcloth (try wetting it with warm, not hot, water) and placing it on the affected area for 10 minutes. Repeat several times a day until your blind pimple gets smaller or comes to the surface. If the spot comes to a head, follow up with another acne remedy, such as a pimple patch, or visit a facialist for a proper extraction.

Consider cortisone shots

Getting rid of a blind pimple in just a couple of days might sound like an acne sufferer's pipe dream, but it's totally possible with the help of a cortisone shot. As Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon, shared with Elle, cortisone injections essentially give your pimples a one-to-two-day eviction notice. After that time has passed, your bump should be gone, or at least much smaller in size.

If you're not sure how cortisone shots work, Dr. Corey L. Hartman explained the process to Byrdie: "A cortisone shot is a steroid, typically Kenalog, that is injected directly into a cystic acne nodule. Inflammatory acne causes redness, swelling, and pain that are all alleviated with the injection of a dilute form of corticosteroid."

Zit-zapping cortisone is an effective option when you need a pimple gone ASAP, but note that it can come with some side effects. According to Healthline, you might experience skin pitting, thinning, or discoloration. Therefore, cortisone shots should only be used sparingly, such as before a big event or when your blind pimple doesn't respond to other treatment options.

Laser treatments can nix persistent pimples

Lasers can be a game-changer for acne scarring, but according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, most types of laser treatments don't do much for active cystic acne (including blind pimples). AviClear is one exception that experts can't stop raving about. "Aviclear is a laser FDA-approved to target the sebaceous gland and treat acne, and it requires a series of three treatments spaced about one month apart," Dr. Carmen Castilla, a dermatologist and clinical professor at Mount Sinai, revealed to Women's Health. Most importantly, the treatment is capable of targeting even hard-to-reach pimples. "What's amazing is that it works on all types of acne – whether it's cystic acne, inflammatory acne, hormonal acne, [or] mask acne," Dr. Arash Moradzadeh, a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, gushed to AEDIT. "Regardless of what type of acne you have, it's very effective."

According to the AviClear website, the treatment focuses first and foremost on suppressing the production of sebum. This makes it a great option for persistent blind pimples because it prevents new ones from forming rather than simply zapping existing bumps. Keep in mind, though, that AviClear can be expensive, so it might not be an accessible option if you're on a budget.

Isotretinoin is a common (but controversial) solution

If lasers (or their hefty price tag) aren't your thing, isotretinoin — often referred to as the defunct brand name Accutane — is another option for persistent blind pimples. While it doesn't involve any lights, it targets acne in a similar way to laser treatments. "Isotretinoin is an oral retinoid effective in treating cystic or nodular acne through multiple mechanisms, including reducing sebum production," Dr. Y. Claire Chang, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology, explained to Insider. That means that, just like AviClear, isotretinoin prevents new pimples from burying themselves in your skin.

However, going on Accutane isn't right for everyone. Due to the medication's reported side effects, it's garnered some controversy, and many doctors consider it a last resort. The American Academy of Dermatology Association confirms that isotretinoin can cause birth defects and pregnancy complications. As a result, those who can become pregnant must do regular pregnancy tests and use two forms of birth control.

Isotretinoin has also been said to trigger severe depression in some people who take it, though more research is needed to prove this link. Despite the controversy, the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology claims that over two million people have taken the drug, and overall, it's considered safe and effective for severe acne. You'll need a prescription, so talk to your doctor to find out if isotretinoin is a good fit for treating your blind acne.