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Breakouts of all kinds are annoying and frustrating. You work hard to care for your skin and you still feel bumps or see blackheads. And it’s only worsened when you have a pimple under the skin. This type of zit, often referred to as a cystic blemish, or sometimes a blind pimple, is caused when bacteria and dead skin cells get trapped in your pores, causing a hard bump underneath the skin. It’s almost impossible to pop, so please do not try, as that will make the bump worse and could lead to scarring. If it does burst, the bacteria can travel to other pores, causing more bumps. However, there are steps you can take to help get rid of this under-the-skin pimple.

If you need this pimple gone, say, yesterday, the fastest way to do so is to see your dermatologist for a cortisone shot, which can take effect in as little as six hours. However, you may not be able to get in with your derm or want to pay the out-of-pocket expense (approximately $100) for the shot. In lieu of that, you can dab hydrocortisone on the bump to help it shrink and to reduce any redness. As an alternative, you can also use ice to reduce redness and swelling.

You definitely want to use salicylic acid to treat this zit. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) and works as an exfoliant. It penetrates your pores so it exfoliates both on skin’s surface and inside the pore, to reduce the build-up of dead skin cells. Wash with a product like First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Acne Clearing Charcoal Cleanser with Probiotics and then use a leave-on treatment, such as the Murad Acne Control Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment. You can use these during the day, but be sure to follow with a moisturizer with SPF.

You will also want to use benzoyl peroxide to treat as well, which is an antibacterial agent. Under skin pimples are caused primarily by bacteria, and this is a gold-standard in killing the bacteria. Benzoyl peroxide is a potential irritant, however, so use cautiously. If your skin is not used to this product, try a wash, such as the  Neutrogena® Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Facial Cleanser. For a leave-on treatment, start with a 2.5% concentration, such as the Neutrogena On-the-Spot® Acne Treatment, and only use on the affected area. Do not combine a benzoyl peroxide wash with a leave-on treatment, due to the possibility of irritation.

Using the salicylic acid wash and treatment along with a benzoyl peroxide product should help get rid of the pimple in two or three days, and the hydrocortisone will help with the redness. This pimple didn’t form overnight, so it won’t go away overnight, either.

A few under skin pimples here and there are nothing to be concerned with. But if these types of breakouts happen frequently, you’ll want to visit the dermatologist. She can prescribe medications that help regulate pore cell turnover and oil production, leading to fewer breakouts and clearer skin.