Blind Pimple Causes, Prevention, and Treatment Options


Are you wondering how you can treat those under the skin pimples that are ruining your day and get a clear facial skin? Then read on to discover the causes of blind pimples and OTC treatment options you can used to get rid of them. We have also discussed ways in which you can prevent these pimples from occurring again and the differences between blind pimples and boils.



What Is A Blind Pimple? (Definition)

Also referred to as a closed comedone or an under the skin pimple, a blind pimple is a deep pimple with no head. In other words it is a skin bump that does not come to a head as usually happens with ordinary acne pimples, i.e. whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, and pustules.

Blind Pimple


According to Dr. Dendy Engelman, a New York dermatologist, a blind pimple is typically more painful than regular acne bumps because they usually occur “deeper in the skin and closer to the nerves”. It tends to occur more commonly on the nose, chin, and behind the ears but they can appear anywhere else on the face or body including the forehead and back.

The pimples are also typically bigger than your average acne bump since they are associated with more severe inflammation.

A blind pimple forms when hair follicles get clogged with excess sebum, resulting in an inflammatory reaction. This explains the intense swelling and redness that usually accompany with these under the skin pimples. In addition to these symptoms, some people get headaches.


What Causes Blind Pimples?

The causes of blind pimples are the same that cause other types of acne lesions. Any factor that causes overproduction of sebum in the sebaceous glands, clogged pores, and inflammation of the tissues surrounding the hair follicles and skin pores can cause the pimples. Among the causes of blind pimples are:
  • Hormonal changes in teenagers (puberty) and adults (e.g. prior to or after menstruation, and during pregnancy and menopause). This causes excessive sebum production. 
  • Use of thick or greasy, skin clogging cosmetic and skin care products such as lotions, foundations etc.
  • Poor shedding of dead skin cells. This then causes clogging of hair follicle.
  • Bacterial infection – the naturally occurring skin bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes, is usually involved.

These causes are usually interlinked. More than one of these factors are usually involved.

Blind Pimple Treatment

A blind pimple may not have a whitehead or blackhead, but that doesn’t mean it is less noticeable. In fact it can be more noticeable if it’s particularly large and red or pink in color. They also tend to appear more commonly on the nose and behind the ears, where they are easily seen. Furthermore, since the pimples are usually associated with more intense inflammation, they tend to affect larger areas on the surface of the skin.

As much a concern as an under the skin pimple is, it makes sense to just pop it with a needle or squeeze it out, right? Wrong. You should never squeeze or prick (poke) the pimples as this not only increase the risk of infection but also scars formation.

Instead of lancing, consider treating blind pimples with the following over the counter treatments:



Salicylic Acid Cleanser or Face Wash

Usually available over the counter in most drugstores (pharmacies) and supermarkets, salicylic acid is arguably the best treatment for blind pimples.  As a beta-hydroxyl acid, salicylic acid works by “drying the skin out” according to a document published by ItsMyHealth.com.au and reviewed by Dr. Adrian Lim of St. George Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centre, Kogarah, NSW.

Salicylic acid is also said to have mild anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful to mild acne. And because it is lipophilic in nature, it combines with skin oils (sebum) to go deeper into the affected area of the skin, where it helps to unclog the pores.

The only downside to salicylic acid for treatment of blind pimples is that it may be too drying to the skin as to even cause it to flake if used too frequently, and may also irritate sensitive skin.

Among the best over the counter (not requiring prescription) cleansers that contain salicylic acid are Neutrogena, Garnier Pure, L’Oreal Pure Zone, Olay Fresh Effects Clear Skin Salicylic Acid Scrub, and Acnex Clear.

Here is how to treat under the skin pimples with salicylic acid:
  1. Cleanse your face by splashing warm water. This will help to open up the skin pores.
  2. Apply a small amount (about a teaspoon) of face wash containing salicylic acid.
  3. Massage the cleanser into the skin in gentle circular strokes to avoid too much pressure. 
  4. Rinse your face with warm water and use a clean towel to pat it dry.
  5. Repeat the cleansing process twice daily, in the morning and evening.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before using salicylic acid treatment for blind pimples if you have any other medication or pimple treatments e.g. those that contain benzoyl peroxide.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide may also help with treatment of under the skin pimples. According to the Dermatology Associates of Wisconsin, benzoyl peroxide works by unclogging the pores while killing the bacteria. Benzoyl peroxide is available over the counter in gels and creams such as Dermalogica’s Special Clearing Booster and Clear Daily Skin Clearing Treatment.

To treat blind pimples with benzoyl peroxide, follow these steps:
  1. Dab a small amount of benzoyl peroxide gel or cream to the affected area of the skin.
  2. Lather it up and leave it on for 10-15 seconds.
  3. Rinse your skin with warm water.
  4. Apply a mild non-comedogenic moisturizer (e.g. Lubriderm, Neutrogena etc.). This helps to curb the drying effect of benzoyl peroxide.
  5. Repeat the process once or twice every day to get rid of blind pimples. 
Read more: Benzoyl peroxide for acne

Magnoplasm for Blind Pimples Drawing

Magnoplasm™ is a drawing paste that is formulated to draw things out of the skin by exerting osmotic action on the cells. With glycerol and magnesium sulfate as the main active ingredients, Magnoplasm can help to draw out (bring to the surface of the skin) a whole range of objects stuck in the skin, from splinters to whitlows, boils and carbuncles.

Although not originally intended for the purpose, some people will also swear to the effectiveness of Magnoplasm paste or gel in drawing out blind pimples. The only downside to Magnoplasm is that it can get drippy when it warms up, but you can easily address this challenge by using a Band-Aid or dressing. Below is a guideline on how to draw out a blind pimple using Magnoplasm:
  1. Dab some Magnoplasm paste on the inflamed area of the face or skin.
  2. Cover the area with a Band-Aid or any other non-adhesive dressing.
  3. Leave the dressing overnight.
  4. Repeat the treatment every night until the problem gets cured.


When to See a Doctor

If blind pimples causes you too much pain, then it may be time to seek medical help. Your doctor or dermatologist may deem it necessary to inject you with an anti-inflammatory medication. You should also be concerned if these pimples breakout all over your body, won’t go away, or keeps coming back. Your doctor may also prescribe topical or oral antibiotics to kill the bacteria that cause the breakout.

How to Prevent Blind Pimples

As Dr. Engelman says, OTC retinols and prescription retinoids can help to keep the pores open and reduce sebum production and thus prevent pimples formation. Dr. Engelman further recommends cutting down on high glycemic index foods e.g. spaghetti, and dairy products to avoid breakouts.

Blind Pimple vs. Boil – What is the Difference?

Because they are very similar, especially during their early stages, a question often arises, “What is the difference between a blind pimple and a boil?”



As we have stated earlier, under the skin pimples are caused by clogging of hair follicles, resulting in an inflamed bump under the skin. Boils on the other hand, are caused by a bacterial infection of the hair follicle. They occur when Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (also referred to as “staph”) gets into the hair follicle through contact with infected person or object e.g. towel.

The location and size of the spot can help you determine whether it is a blind pimple or a boil.

On one hand, boils are more likely to appear in areas with a combination of hair follicle, sweat, and friction e.g. the neck, armpits, groin, buttocks, thighs, and between legs. Blind pimples on the other hand tend to appear more commonly on the face, chest and back because there areas of the body tend to have more active sebaceous (oil) glands than other parts of the body. Both under the skin pimples and boils can however develop on the nose and neck.

Another important difference between a blind pimple and a boil is that a boil eventually accumulate pus and grow larger and more painful than an under the skin pimple. Boils may also join together to form dome-shaped carbuncles with a single head. Boils and carbuncles are also harder compared to under the skin pimples.

Do you ever get under the skin pimples? How do your treat the blind pimples? Is there a treatment that you find particularly effective? Let us discuss and help each other in the comments.