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Pimples on the neck are not uncommon. Irritated acne, in particular, can manifest as painful papules, pustules, cysts, or nodules. Treatment is available.

If you’ve been unsuccessful in treating them with over-the-counter solutions, consider speaking with your doctor about more aggressive treatment options.

Pimples are a form of acne, a very common skin condition. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology projects that 40 to 50 million Americans have acne at any one time. Acne occurs at any time of life, and it’s most common among adolescents because of their fluctuating hormones. The Mayo Clinic states that 70 to 87 percent of teenagers have acne. Adults can also have acne, and women may be more likely to experience acne around menstruation or during pregnancy or menopause. Other causes of acne include medications, stress, diet, and genetics.

Acne can appear on many parts of the body, including the face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders.

It can be mild, which may result in whiteheads or blackheads. However, painful papules and pustules appear on the top of the skin, whereas cysts or nodules develop below the skin and may be very painful.

There is a wide spectrum of pimple treatments available. Mild acne can be treated with over-the-counter products. More severe acne should be treated by a doctor. Pimples and other acne may be treated with a combination of methods.

Is it safe to pop a pimple on your neck?

It’s never a good idea to pop a pimple. Picking and popping pimples can actually make the affected area worse and may lead to scarring. When you attempt to pop a pimple, you risk infecting it by introducing bacteria from your hands to the area.

Over-the-counter treatments

You can try to treat your pimple with over-the-counter products. These include creams, gels, lotions, and more. Be sure to read the instructions carefully to ensure you use these topical treatments correctly. Over-the-counter acne products use ingredients including:

  • Benzoyl peroxide: This kills acne-causing bacteria and lessens swelling of the pimple.
  • Salicylic acid: This dries out your skin and can cause it to peel.
  • Sulfur: This unclogs pores by attacking bacteria. Sulfur may be useful to try in treating a single pimple, as it’s used in spot treatments and can be left on the skin.

These over-the-counter products can be used in combination with other products, such as retinol and alpha hydroxyl acids. These products do not target acne, but they can contribute to helping acne products work better.

If you have any allergic reaction, like persistent burning, rash, or increased redness to any of the over-the-counter treatments, stop taking them immediately. It may take several days or weeks for your pimple to clear.

Shop for over-the-counter acne products online at Amazon.

Prescription treatments

Acne that is more severe than the occasional pimple may be treated with a doctor’s help. A doctor can prescribe more concentrated topical medications, oral medications, and even other treatments, such as light therapy or extraction.

Some women find the use of combined birth control pills to be effective in controlling acne. These birth control pills contain estrogen and progestin.

Acne is the result of a clogged pore. Pores can be clogged with dead skin cells, sebum (an oil produced by the body to prevent dry skin), and bacteria called P. acnes.

Acne may appear on your neck if the skin cells are clogged. Possible causes include:

  • not washing your neck regularly, especially after sweating
  • using a product that might have blocked the oil on your skin, such as a moisturizer, makeup, sunscreen, or even a hair product
  • wearing clothing or equipment that rubbed your neck
  • having long hair that rubs against your neck

You may also have acne for more general reasons, including hormone changes, stress, diet, medications, or family history.

Make sure to observe your pimple to ensure it’s not something other than acne. Something that appears to be an abnormal pimple could be the sign of another condition. These conditions include:

  • basal or squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer)
  • a deeper skin infection or abscess
  • an infected cyst
  • a keloid (over-aggressive skin healing that causes thick scars)

Acne is a very common condition with a wide variety of treatments. Not all treatments work universally, and you may need to try a few methods before finding one that clears up your pimples. A single pimple on your neck may run its course within a few days or weeks. When using treatments for more prevalent acne, it may take weeks or months to clear. You should see your doctor about long-lasting, irritated pimples, as they may require more in-depth treatment or could be something else altogether.

If you’re bothered by your acne, and it’s causing low self-esteem or depression, talk to your doctor.

Here are some ways to reduce the chances of getting a pimple on your neck:

  • Use different body and hair products.
  • Don’t pick at your pimples.
  • Wash your skin regularly, especially after exercising.
  • Shampoo your hair regularly and keep it up if you have long hair.
  • Avoid clothes, headgear, or equipment that might rub on your neck.
  • Gently wash your neck instead of scrubbing it.