Imagine this: you are sitting at your desk when suddenly you feel a very tender, big button form on your chin. Nobody ever gets excited about getting a pimple, but this one sends a wave of dread because you know (and feel!) it’s deep and smoldering below the surface of your skin. skin. Sound familiar? It’s probably a blind button.
Meet our experts: Xenovia GabrielMD, dermatologist, hormonal skin specialist and founder of Dr Zenovia Skin Care, Young StoneMD, Dermatologist and Medical Director of Nurx Dermatology, carmen castileMD, dermatologist with New York Dermatology Group and clinical professor at Mount Sinai
“Blind acne, or subterranean acne, gets its name from the fact that these pimples are not on the surface and occur largely below the surface of the skin,” explains Xenovia GabrielMD, dermatologist, hormonal skin specialist and founder of Dr Zenovia Skin Care. “Common places for deep acne, AKA blind pimples, to appear are the chin, jawline, side of the face, and neck, and that’s because there’s a high density of sebaceous glands clustered together in these areas and sebaceous glands are deeper in the tissue here,” she explains.
These sebaceous glands are then triggered by hormonal stimulation at the follicle level so that the pocket of sebum is deep and not on the surface of the skin as with a whitehead or black dot, She adds. As a result, blind pimples are often painful and difficult to treat.
Ready to clear up your skin (and any confusion you may have over blind pimples)? Great. Keep reading to find out why you have blind pimples in the first place and how to treat them once and for all, according to dermatologists.
What is a blind button?
A blind pimple is a small bump or bump that forms below the surface of your skin and typically develops on your face, chest, or upper back, says Young StoneMD, Dermatologist and Medical Director of Nurx Dermatology.
“They can stay below the surface of your skin and cause inflammation and pain, or they can eventually burst through the skin’s surface and form a whitehead, blackhead, or red bump,” he explains. . Blind pimples are also often larger than a normal pimple, and because they live deep in the skin, they are slow to heal, impossible to pop, and generally tender to the touch.
What does a blind button look like?
As the name suggests, you usually cannot see a blind pimple. That said, you may be able to feel a small, firm bump if you run your (clean!) fingers over the surface of your skin. You may also notice swelling, says Dr. Young.
Blind pimples can also be red, tender, and larger than a normal pimple, but they don’t get to a “head” or surface above the skin, adds carmen castileMD, dermatologist with New York Dermatology Group and clinical professor at Mount Sinai.
What causes blind pimples?
Blind pimples develop when your pores become blocked with dead skin cells, sebum (oil produced by your skin), and bacteria, says Dr. Young. “If your skin produces too much sebum, oil and dead skin cells tend to build up under your skin and become a feeding ground for bacteria, leading to pus formation,” he explains. “Unlike blackheads and whiteheads, blind pimples are a bit deeper under the skin, and there’s no escape route for this collection of oil, dead skin, and bacteria, so they have tend to become more inflamed and painful than blackheads and whiteheads.”
And while acne and blind pimples can occur at any age, they’re more common in teens and young adults, adds Dr. Young.
How to get rid of blind pimples
First of all. Don’t pick, push, poke, pop or squeeze your blind pimples! As tempting as it sounds, it can make things worse and turn superficial pimples into blind pimples by pushing sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria deeper into your skin, says Dr. Young. If you try to squeeze, you will create more inflammation making the spot deeper, bigger and more painful (ugh!).
Luckily, though, blind pimples usually go away within one to two weeks when treated (if left untreated, they can linger under your skin for a few months), and simple home remedies can be key, explains the Dr Young.
- Hot compresses: “Hot compresses encourage pus from a blind pimple to come to the surface of the skin and form a head, which eventually turns a deeper blind pimple into a regular, surface-level pimple that is easier to remove. get rid of,” he explains. Try placing a clean, warm washcloth over the blind pimple three to four times a day, for about ten minutes at a time.
- Niacinamide: Niacinamide Gel also works as a spot treatment for blind pimples, as it’s an anti-inflammatory that helps resolve the pimple without causing additional irritation, says Dr. Castilla. His go-to is The Inkey List 20% Niacinamide Serumwhich is best used overnight as it leaves a small white residue on the blemish.
- acne patches: These are useful if you feel the need to touch or pick the pimple, says Dr. Castilla. If you have sensitive skin, she suggests opting for plain hydrocolloid acne patches. However, acne patches containing benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid also work well, adds Dr. Young. “I find that the acne stickers built into either of these medications tend to work better because if you place the little sticker on your skin, it releases the medication over a period of hours and can penetrate the deeper layers of your skin where the blind pimple has formed,” says Dr. Young.
- Benzoyl Peroxide: Topical benzoyl peroxide treatments also work well for banishing blind pimples. Dr. Zenovia suggests to her 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Spot Treatment which is non-irritating benzoyl peroxide that kills bacteria and reduces inflammation. Tea tree oil is another great anti-inflammatory that will help penetrate the skin and kill bacteria, adds Dr. Young.
- Steroid injections: If your blind pimples are extremely painful, stubborn, and/or persistent, Dr. Castilla recommends seeing your dermatologist for a steroid injection. “The best way to quickly resolve blind pimples is to see your board-certified dermatologist for an injection of anti-inflammatory steroids directly into the pimple, which puts the medication exactly where it needs to go to calm the inflammation.”
How to Prevent Blind Pimples
Prevention is key for blind pimples, so first and foremost, always keep your skin clean by washing your face morning, night and whenever you sweat, says Dr. Young. Also, be sure to only use non-comedogenic makeup, moisturizers, sunscreens and cleansers that are specifically noted not to clog pores, he adds.
Then a preventative first line of defense is an over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide wash. “It’s best to use a cleanser with less than 5% benzoyl peroxide for your face, because concentrations of benzoyl peroxide above 5% are more irritating without being more effective,” says Dr. Castilla.
Adapalene gel is another great preventative topical, though it can be irritating and/or drying at first, says Dr. Castilla. She recommends starting with a pea-sized amount every three days, followed by moisturizer.
For those with sensitive skin, Dr. Castilla also recommends the CLn Acne Cleanser for blind pimples since this cleanser contains salicylic acid to help exfoliate and reduce oil.
If topical treatments don’t work (literally), oral prescription medications may be recommended. Options differ slightly for women and men, but typical regimens include doxycycline, minocycline, or Seysara, Dr. Castilla says. Spironolactone also acts on a hormonal component of acne, which is particularly interesting for women who have acne breakouts around their menstrual cycle, she adds.
Your diet is another important consideration for acne prevention. “High glycemic index foods, or foods that quickly raise your blood sugar, can potentially cause acne breakouts, and it’s not just the sugar in cookies and cakes that’s obvious, but also processed white carbs like than white rice, pasta or bread,” says Dr Castilla. Dairy and whey protein supplements can also be a potential trigger, she adds.
Finally, for those who don’t want to take oral acne medications or don’t respond to topical acne prevention regimens, Dr. Castilla says laser treatments may be an option. “Aviclear is an FDA-cleared laser to target the sebaceous gland and treat acne, and it requires a series of three treatments spaced about a month apart.”
Remember, blind pimples can be extremely stubborn and persistent, so if you suffer from chronic acne, talk to your dermatologist to find the perfect treatment plan. And whatever you do…keep your hands on and don’t try to jump!
Andi Breitowich is a Chicago-based writer and a graduate student at Northwestern Medill. She is a big consumer of social media and cares about women’s rights, holistic wellness and non-stigmatizing reproductive care. As a former college pole vaulter, she loves all things fitness and is currently obsessed with Peloton Tread workouts and hot yoga.