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What Are Hard Pimples And How To Treat Them

Hard pimples occur when the sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria enter under the surface of the skin. Hard pimples look like raised bumps on or beneath the surface of the skin and they can also contain pus. There are some forms of hard pimples, which need proper treatment by a doctor to prevent them from worsening or leaving behind scars.

What Causes A Hard Pimple To Form?

Acne is a condition that is very prevalent among teens, preteens and even adults. Around 17 million Americans are suffering from acne (1). Acne develops when there is clogging of the skin pores or hair follicles and become infected (1). Pores can get clogged with: sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria (1).

When the sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria penetrate the surface of the skin and get under the skin, then it results in hard pimples. After they enter the skin, there is multiplication of the bacteria causing irritation and infection of the skin.

Some of the other contributing causes for acne are: medications, fluctuating hormones, not removing makeup before sleep, stress, genetics and friction on the skin (2).

What do Hard Pimples look like?

Hard pimples look like raised bumps present on or beneath the surface of the skin and they can be filled with pus also in some cases.

What are the Different Types of Hard Pimples?

Some types of hard pimples are pustules, papules, nodules and cysts (3).

What is the Treatment for Hard Pimples?

Acne and hard pimples do not have a single treatment or cure. They are treated depending on their severity and type.

Pustules and papules are considered a mild form of acne and they can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) products containing salicylic acid or Benzoyl peroxide (4).  If the acne persists with OTC treatments, then it is advised to consult a dermatologist for treatment.

Treatment for nodules and cysts is done by a doctor and some of the types can need intensive treatments. The treatment options can include oral treatments, topical treatments and in some cases light therapy (5).

Topical Treatments for Hard Pimples

There are different types of topical treatments for hard pimples which help by killing the bacteria and addressing other symptoms like reducing the sebum production on the skin.

Treatment can include over the counter and also prescription medications. Some of the topical treatments for hard pimples include:

Antibiotics are given to kill bacteria and alleviate the skin irritation (6).

Retinoids help in preventing clogging of the hair follicles (6).

Salicylic acid helps in gently exfoliating and removing the dead skin cells from the surface of the skin (6).

Benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that cause acne or hard pimples (6).

The use of tea tree oil is also helpful in treating acne and hard pimples (7).

Oral Treatments for Hard Pimples

Oral medications for treating hard pimples include:

Oral Antibiotics can be prescribed for a short period of time and stopped after the symptoms clear up.

Birth control pills for women can be prescribed if the cause of the hard pimples is fluctuating hormone levels (8).

Isotretinoin is prescribed in severe cases which do not respond to other medications (9).

Other Treatments for Hard Pimples

Other treatment options for hard pimples include:

Light and laser therapy to kill the acne causing bacteria.

Drainage and extraction is done for a hard pimple which has become an acne cyst filled with pus.

Steroid injection is given in severe cases where the steroid is injected into the affected area or hard pimple.

Can it be something else?

Sometimes, what looks like hard pimples can be something else altogether.

If the hard pimples aren’t clearing despite treatment or if there are some other unusual symptoms, then it is advised to seek medical consultation to confirm if these are actually acne or something else from other underlying medical condition.

Basal cell carcinoma can appear like acne, as it develops in hair follicles and on the outer layer of the skin (10).

Rosacea can also appear as pustules or papules but need different treatment.

Chloracne is another condition which resembles acne; however, is caused by exposure to halogenated polycyclic hydrocarbons and causes formation of nodules or cysts (11).

Can you pop a Hard Pimple?

Popping a hard pimple can be tempting; however, it is strictly advised against it. About 20% of adolescents develop scars after picking at their acne (12). Touching your face with your hands can cause infection or worsening of the acne or hard pimple.

Is There Any Way To Prevent Hard Pimples?

  • Wash your skin with mild cleanser twice a day, especially after exertion or exercise.
  • Never touch your face with your hands, as it can spread the bacteria and worsen the condition (1).
  • Avoid harsh scrubbing of the skin (1).
  • Do not rub or pop your acne as it can worsen it and cause formation of scars (1, 12).
  • Use products according to your skin type.
  • Always use sunscreen when stepping out in the sun.
  • Follow a healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruits and avoid sugary, oily and processed foods.
  • Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated is the key to good skin.

What is the Outlook for Hard Pimples?

The treatment depends on the type of acne causing the hard pimples and consists of OTC or prescription medications. Always seek medical treatment for severe forms of acne. Cysts and nodules can be irritating and painful and also can affect self esteem and self confidence. One needs to have patience with the treatment as it takes time to give results.


Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 8, 2024

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