Blind pimples are pimples (zits) that form under your skin. They may stay under your skin’s surface, causing pain and inflammation. Or they may erupt through the surface in the form of a whitehead, blackhead or red bump. Treatment includes warm compresses and acne-fighting creams. Keep your skin clean to reduce the chance of getting a blind pimple.
A blind pimple is a pimple (zit) that forms under your skin. Unlike other types of pimples that form a visible whitehead, blackhead or red bump, blind pimples develop under the surface. Some blind pimples eventually come to a head and “erupt” from underneath your skin’s surface, forming a visible blemish. Others go away without making an appearance.
Blind pimples often develop on your face, upper back or chest. You might be able to feel a blind pimple if your rub your finger over the surface of your skin. But it isn’t always possible to feel a bump.
Blind pimples can be painful and annoying. But several treatments, including warm compresses and topical creams, can shrink a blind pimple. Never try to “pop” a blind pimple. Squeezing it can make the pimple worse or cause permanent scarring.
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Anyone can get a blind pimple. Teenagers and young adults are more likely to get all kinds of pimples, but they can develop at any age. You’re more likely to have acne (the skin condition that causes pimples) if you have a family history of it.
Healthcare providers aren’t sure exactly how many people get blind pimples. These underground pimples occur along with other types of zits, which result from acne. Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. Around 50 million people in the U.S. have it.
As with other types of pimples, blind pimples develop when your skin’s pores become blocked. Pores are tiny holes in your skin. Healthcare providers also call them hair follicles. They can become blocked with:
If your body makes too much sebum or you don’t clean your skin properly, the oil and skin cells build up under your skin and form pus. It becomes trapped and can’t get to your skin’s surface to leave your body. A pimple forms, causing pain and inflammation. Excess sebum and blocked pores can result from many factors, including:
You may have a blind pimple from time to time. Or you may have many blind pimples that take months to go away. A severe type of acne called nodular acne can cause multiple blind pimples along with raised red bumps. These painful blind pimples, or nodules, contain pus and bacteria and feel hard under the skin.
Signs of a blind pimple include:
Some whiteheads or blackheads start out as blind pimples and move up through the layers of skin to the surface. A red bump may appear, and a “head” can develop at the center. The head is usually yellow, white or black.
You can usually recognize signs of a blind pimple on your own. If pain from a blind pimple is severe, or if you have several blind pimples or they keep coming back, see your healthcare provider. They’ll examine your skin and may recommend seeing a dermatologist (a healthcare provider who specializes in caring for the skin).
You can treat mild blind pimples at home. To relieve pain and inflammation under your skin, you should:
If you have more than one blind pimple, they keep coming back or they’re especially painful, see your healthcare provider for an evaluation and treatment. Multiple or recurring blind pimples may be a sign of a severe type of acne that requires treatment from a dermatologist. You may need oral medication (that you take by mouth) or other treatments, such as corticosteroid injections.
Never try to pop or squeeze a blind pimple. Doing so pushes the oil and bacteria deeper, causing more inflammation and increasing the risk of infection. Picking at or squeezing a blind pimple can also lead to acne scars.
You may not be able to prevent all blind pimples. But you can reduce your chance of getting them or making them worse by:
Blind pimples usually go away in about a week or two with the proper treatments. But they can linger under your skin for a few months, causing pain and irritation. In severe cases, the oil and dead skin cells can block the pores deep under your skin, which traps bacteria and causes an infection.
See your healthcare provider if:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Blind pimples can be very painful. But most blind pimples go away in a week or two. If you have several blind pimples or you continue having pain or inflammation, talk to your healthcare provider. You may have a type of acne that requires treatment from a dermatologist. Never squeeze or try to pop a blind pimple. You might make it worse. To prevent these annoying zits, wash your face twice a day with a mild cleanser and avoid pore-clogging makeup and lotions.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/04/2022.
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