Blind pimples, or cystic acne, are deep bumps that form under the skin.

They can be small or large, red and painful, or nearly invisible. While blind pimples are sometimes hard to see, there are steps you can take to get rid of them.

In this article, we’ll review what a blind pimple is, and various treatments you can use to get rid of them, safely and effectively.

Blind pimples are acne that develops under the skin’s surface.

While the pimple isn’t always noticeable, you can usually feel the lump. The area may be painful, or red and slightly inflamed.

Blind pimples are most often caused by a cyst or nodule underneath the skin. They differ from whiteheads and blackheads, which develop closer to the skin’s surface.

Blind pimples can be stubborn. They don’t have heads that you can soften or “pop.” In some instances, you may be able to coax an opening to form at the head of a blind pimple.

The image gallery below shows what blind pimples may look like.

Blind pimples can be tough to get rid of, but there are many therapies you can try at home. Always make sure your hands are clean before you use any at-home treatment.

Home therapies

  • Don’t squeeze or pop. Blind pimples are too far below the skin to pop. Trying will only irritate them further, and may cause infection or scarring. Instead of popping, try to bring the pimple to a head so it can exit the skin via other treatment methods.
  • Use a product containing benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide kills bacteria under the skin. It’s a common ingredient in many over-the-counter (OTC) acne treatments and cleansers.
  • Apply a warm compress. Warm compresses can help ease pain. They’re also beneficial once a whitehead begins to form. Apply the warm compress 10 to 15 minutes three to four times a day. This allows the pimple to release pus and heal.
  • Wear an acne patch. An acne patch is a small medicated bandage you place directly on the blind pimple. They typically contain acne-fighting agents, such as salicylic acid. Acne patches can be purchased online or in drugstores. Make sure you follow the directions for use exactly.
  • Apply tea tree oil. Tea tree oil contains antimicrobial compounds and may be a gentle alternative to antibiotics and OTC treatments. For optimum effectiveness, use a product containing 5 percent tea tree oil or greater. Apply twice a day until the blind pimple heals completely. Make sure to dilute tea tree oil first with a carrier oil, such as olive oil. Tea tree oil is safe enough for daily use.
  • Apply raw honey. Raw honey is another natural alternative to OTC products. Honey has natural antimicrobial properties that help get rid of bacteria. Apply a small amount to the affected area and leave on overnight. Raw honey can also be mixed with water as a cleanser.

Clinical treatments

If blind pimples don’t resolve easily at home, are especially painful, or seem infected, seek out a dermatologist. In some instances, prescribed medications including antibiotics can help get rid of blind pimples.

Some clinical treatments include:

Topical antibiotics

These can help get rid of any bacteria that’s contributing to the blind pimple, and reduce inflammation. If you get recurring blind pimples, such products may be used around the affected area as a preventive measure.

The most common topical antibiotics for acne include clindamycin and erythromycin. These come in a gel formula that you apply twice a day.

If you have sensitive skin, you may need to apply topical antibiotics once a day and see how your skin reacts before moving up to twice a day.

However, topical antibiotics aren’t effective by themselves. You’ll need to use them in conjunction with another type of acne product, such as benzoyl peroxide. The antibiotic gets rid of the bacteria and inflammation, while the benzoyl peroxide dries out the blind pimple.

Oral antibiotics

Moderate to severe acne of all types is often treated with oral antibiotics.

If you have many blind pimples, or blind pimples that seem to be infected, your doctor may recommend oral antibiotics instead of or in addition to topical antibiotics.

Cortisone shots

Very painful, large, or swollen blind pimples may be treated with a cortisone injection. Your doctor will inject a diluted cortisone solution directly into each blind pimple.

Blind pimples can develop when sebum (oil), bacteria, and dirt become trapped deep within a hair follicle. The end result is a painful lump under your skin that doesn’t have a “head” as other pimples might have.

If you have oily skin, you may be more prone to blind pimples than people with dry skin.

Hormonal fluctuations can also sometimes cause an overabundance of sebum in the skin. This may be most likely to occur at specific times of your life, such as puberty or pregnancy.

Taking certain medications may contribute to blind pimples. These include oral corticosteroids and some contraceptives.

Blind pimples can be hard to get rid of, but they’re treatable with patience and care.

Blind pimples differ from other types of pimples. This chart can help you identify the different types of pimples.

Types of pimplesCharacteristics
blackheads (a type of comedone)an oil plug in a hair follicle that has an open head at the surface of the skin
whiteheads (a type of comedone)a closed skin pore that’s clogged with oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells
papulesa raised, solid bump or bumps caused by irritation or friction, like shaving
pustulesinflamed whiteheads surrounded by a red ring
blind acne (cystic acne)painful, irritated bumps deep under the skin that don’t have an open head

Blind pimples, also known as cystic acne, form deep within the skin and can be painful to the touch.

While blind pimples are a challenging type of acne to treat, they can sometimes be treated at home. That said, for chronic cases, a dermatologist can help you outline a personal treatment strategy to get rid of your blind pimples.