Blood-Filled Pimple

A blood-filled pimple is a red, swollen bump on your skin that contains blood. You can cause a blood-filled pimple by damaging blood vessels around an existing pimple. This often happens when you pop, squeeze, pick or over-exfoliate a pimple. Blood-filled pimples usually heal on their own if you prevent further damage and keep the area clean.


What is a blood-filled pimple?

A blood-filled pimple is a red, swollen bump on your skin that contains blood. It can form anywhere on your body after a regular pimple experiences trauma, such as picking, squeezing or over-exfoliating.


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What is the difference between a blood-filled pimple and a regular pimple?

Regular pimples form when skin pores get clogged with dead skin cells, oil, dirt or sweat. Bacteria and pus collect in the clogged pore, causing it to swell into a bump. A pimple can be a singular blemish or part of more widespread, frequent breakouts, called acne.

A blood-filled pimple looks like a pimple, but it’s filled with blood. Blood-filled pimples tend to look more irritated and inflamed than regular pimples. And they’re more likely to lead to infections and acne scars.

Symptoms and Causes

Why is my pimple filled with blood?

A pimple may fill with blood when it has had trauma (injury). This can happen when you do the following to a regular pimple:

  • Pick.
  • Pop.
  • Squeeze.
  • Use harsh cleansers or exfoliators.
  • Wash it too frequently.

Many people squeeze or pop pimples to remove pus and try to make the pimple go away faster. But when you squeeze or pop a pimple, you can damage or burst blood vessels in the area. That can make the pimple fill with blood.


What are the symptoms of a blood-filled pimple?

A blood-filled pimple is often:

  • Irritated or inflamed.
  • Red, pink, brown or even almost black.
  • Swollen or raised above your skin even more than a regular pimple.
  • Tender or sore.

How do blood-filled pimples spread?

Pimples don’t spread, but you may get several in one area. Or they may appear over your entire face or back, for example.

Popping pimples, however, can cause bacteria to spread under your skin to other pores. This can result in more pimples.


Diagnosis and Tests

How is a blood-filled pimple diagnosed?

You can self-diagnose a blood-filled pimple based on how it looks and feels. Or you can seek a diagnosis from your primary care provider or dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in the skin).

Your healthcare provider will examine the pimple, possibly using a bright light or a magnifying glass.

Management and Treatment

Should you pop a blood-filled pimple?

Don’t pop or squeeze a blood-filled pimple. That can cause:

  • Infection.
  • More pimples.
  • Pain.
  • Scarring.

What are the treatments for blood-filled pimples?

Blood-filled pimples usually heal on their own if you keep them clean, but otherwise leave them alone.

If pimples don’t heal as they should, or if you keep getting acne breakouts, treatment and prevention options include:

  • Salicylic acid: Salicylic acid is a topical product that removes dead skin cells (exfoliates), fights bacteria, reduces swelling and lessens redness. It’s usually in the form of a gel, serum or patch, available over the counter or by prescription.
  • Retinoid: This product is a form of vitamin A that usually comes in a gel, serum, cream or patch. It helps unclog pores and is available over the counter and by prescription. Isotretinoin is an oral retinoid that’s available by prescription for severe acne.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics kill the bacteria that contribute to breakouts. They’re available by prescription, usually in pill form but sometimes as an ointment to put on your skin (topical).
  • Oral contraceptives: Also called the birth control pill, this treatment regulates hormones, which can help prevent acne.

For severe blood-filled pimples or acne that frequently causes them, your dermatologist may recommend a procedure, such as:

  • Drainage and extraction: Your dermatologist uses special, sterile tools to pierce the pimple and drain it. The procedure removes bacteria, pus and other substances. It relieves pressure, reduces the risk of infection and speeds up the healing process.
  • Laser therapy: This procedure uses focused beams of light to kill bacteria, break up scar tissue and encourage growth of healthy cells.
  • Microdermabrasion: This procedure is a deep exfoliation that removes the top layer of skin. It’s not usually used on pimples that are currently inflamed. But it can remove blackheads and whiteheads (which can develop into pimples).


How can I reduce my risk of blood-filled pimples?

Several strategies can help you prevent blood-filled pimples:

  • Avoid popping, squeezing or scratching pimples. Avoid touching them as much as possible.
  • Don’t exfoliate pimples. Wait until a pimple is gone and your skin is healed. Then opt for gentle exfoliators, not gritty scrubs or rough fabrics.
  • Keep pimples clean, washing with a gentle cleanser and warm water (not hot) twice a day. Don’t put makeup on top of pimples, as it can prevent healing or worsen clogging.
  • Regularly wash anything that touches your face often. Examples include your pillowcase, washcloths, towels, facemasks and phones. This’ll help keep pimples clean so they can heal.

Outlook / Prognosis

Do blood-filled pimples go away?

Blood-filled pimples usually heal on their own in a few days to a few weeks. You can help them heal faster by keeping them clean and not picking or squeezing.

Are there any long-term effects of blood-filled pimples?

If you continue picking at blood-filled pimples, they can cause infection and permanent scars.

Living With

How do I take care of a blood-filled pimple at home?

Blood-filled pimples can be tender or even painful. In addition to treatments, consider applying ice. Put a cold pack on the area for 15 minutes several times a day. This’ll reduce redness and swelling.

When should I seek medical attention for a pimple?

If a pimple shows any signs of infection, call your healthcare provider. Signs include:

  • Fever.
  • Increasing redness or red streaks on the surrounding skin.
  • Pain or tenderness that’s getting worse.
  • Pus draining from the pimple.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

A blood-filled pimple is a red, swollen bump on your skin that contains blood. It can happen when you pop, squeeze, scratch or over-exfoliate a pimple, breaking the surrounding blood vessels. If you have frequent blood-filled pimples or other acne problems, talk to your primary care provider or dermatologist. Several remedies are available over the counter and by prescription.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 04/18/2022.

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