Pimples are the bane of our existence and have plagued almost everyone at one point in their lives. But while they are dreadful enough on their own, it is indubitably the painful, hormonal acne that lay underneath the skin, refusing to surface, that is most annoying.
Otherwise known as blind pimples, they are unlike your typical zits and require a little more tender loving care to have them surface and treated. We speak to Dr Teo Wan Lin, dermatologist and founder of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, about what causes them, and the things you can do the next time you get another.
What are blind pimples and what causes them?
According to Dr Teo, blind pimples are colloquial speak for acne that don’t seem to have openings or heads, and are actually white heads known as closed comedones, as opposed to blackheads, which are open comedones.
“The cause of blind pimples are actually a form of acne. And even though there are various appearances of acne bumps ranging from whiteheads, blackheads, cysts and papules, they all have the same underlying set of causes,” she says.
She adds that one has to be genetically susceptible to acne to suffer from it, and that excessive oil production can result in inflammation. This swelling can be worsened by the presence of a particular causative bacteria behind the development of acne.
“Another cause are acne cysts, which are larger and more painful bumps that seem to arise from under the skin and are also without heads. There is a role of secondary bacterial infection in individuals who develop these acne cysts which can also be perceived as blind pimples.”
“However, these almost always start off as whiteheads, which are also considered blind since you do not see a visible tract to the surface. These then get infected by skin bacteria which could be affected in a secondary infection gram negative folliculitis.”
Why can’t I get my pimple to surface?
Unfortunately, a pimple may never even surface as acne is not an external issue, but an internal one.
“The very nature of acne is that it is triggered off by inflammation underneath the skin and is not due to external factors. Every pimple starts with the genetic tendency of the individual to develop mini whiteheads buried under the surface of the skin, which then develop into either white heads or black heads over the course of two weeks to a month before they appear on the skin.”
Can I pop a pimple with no head?
It can be reaaaally hard to leave a zit alone. But take it from the professional: don’t touch it.
“Popping any form of pimple is not advised,” warns Dr Teo. She adds that, first of all, your fingers and your fingernails contain bacteria, and that even if you wash your hands, it is an area of broken skin and any form of pressure or squeezing around that area will cause more internal bleeding.
“Methods that are specifically used to treat acne in a dermatologist’s office have nothing to do with extracting or removing a pimple on the surface. Even if you try to extract whatever pimples there are on the surface, there will always be new ones growing under your skin. And before you even see the pimple, it is already under your skin for a good two weeks to a month.”
Will a blind pimple go away by itself?
Sometimes. The dermatologist says that this can happen when the whitehead gets infected with superficial skin bacteria, which forms a pustule. In this instance, the debris is released over a period of time and that’s when you see the pimple surfacing.
How can I treat a blind pimple?
Depending on the severity, there are many treatments and preventative measures you can take to make them go away. Here’s what Dr Teo suggests.