Why Do Pimples Hurt & How to Treat Them

Why Do Pimples Hurt & How to Treat Them

Ever experienced a painful, super red pimple but not sure what caused it? Read our guide to learn how to treat these under-the-skin pimples and find relief.

Despite being the most common skin disorder,1 acne is no walk in the park. Breakouts like cystic acne can take a toll on your self-esteem and confidence. Beyond the aesthetic concerns, some pimples are painful

If you’ve ever woken up to a red and swollen pimple, you may be wondering, “Why do pimples hurt and how long do pimples last for?”

Below, we’ll break down the science behind blemishes’ aches and pains. We’ll also review five steps you can take to ease their discomfort. 

Why Do Pimples Hurt to Touch?

Pimples develop when your pores become clogged with dead skin cells, excess oil, debris, and bacteria.2 While all pimples start out this way, they don’t all inflict the same severity of symptoms. 

For instance, whiteheads and blackheads are rarely tender to the touch. In contrast, pustules, papules, nodules, and cysts can be quite painful. That’s because these types of blemishes induce inflammation, which is characterized by:3

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Heat
  • Tenderness

Inflammation is your body’s defense response to bacterial infections. When your immune system discovers that bacteria is festering in your blemishes, it sends a fleet of white blood cells to fight them off.4 Thus, inflammation shows that your immune system is doing its job at fighting off severe acne. 

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Why Does Inflammation Cause Pimple Pain? 

Inflammation causes pimple pain by pushing against sensitive nerve endings within your skin.5 The deeper and larger the pimple, the more painful it can be. 
How to Treat a Painful Pimple

If you’re dealing with a painful blind pimple, you may be eager for some relief. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to alleviate acne-related pain.

#1 Don't Pop Your Pimple

When you have a swollen, throbbing pimple, you may assume that popping it will speed up the healing process. As tempting as that may be, you should avoid popping your pimples at all costs. If you’re curious to know what happens if you don’t pop a pimple, you can learn about the benefits from our skincare experts.

Picking at your skin is only likely to exacerbate inflammation, worsening your pain and prolonging the healing process. Pimple popping can also increase the chances that you develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).6

#2 Apply a Cold Compress

As with a muscle injury, icing your pimple can provide some fast-acting pain relief.7 Before you apply the ice, make sure you wash the area with a gentle cleanser. After that, you can wrap the cold compress in a clean paper towel and hold it up to your pimple for five to ten minutes at a time. For the most effective pain relief, try icing your pimple a few times a day.

3. Wear Medicated Acne Patches

Medicated acne patches are small stickers that contain acne-fighting medication, such as tea tree oil or salicylic acid, on their sticky side. These active ingredients can help fight off bacteria, absorb any oozing fluid, and soothe inflammation.8

Wearing an acne patch can also ensure you don’t pick at your skin, protecting it from additional inflammation and injury. 

Note: Acne patches work best with the following types of pimples:

  • Pustules
  • Papules
  • Nodules
  • Cysts

#4 Use Topical Treatments

Acne spot treatments are products you can apply directly to painful pimples. They’re meant to reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process. 

Spot treatments often contain the following types of ingredients:

  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Salicylic acid
  • Tea tree oil
  • Retinoids

Some of these ingredients can dry out your skin. To solve that problem, we created an alternative at CLEARSTEM Skincare that’s free of harsh ingredients. Our sulfur spot treatment provides potent pain relief for inflamed acne spots using clay, zinc, sulfur, and glycolic. In turn, it can combat pimple pain and swelling without inducing drying side effects. 

#5 Prevent Future Breakouts With Hormonal Acne Supplements

While there are many steps you can take to soothe painful blemishes, the best course of action is to prevent them from developing in the first place. You can stop acne at the source by taking a hormonal acne supplement. 

Our MINDBODYSKIN® Hormonal Acne Supplement contains a mix of potent acne-fighting ingredients, including 5-HTP, DIM, glutathione, vitamin A, vitamin B5, and dandelion root. We’re also releasing a version without 5-HTP for people taking antidepressants or other medication. Together, these supplements target the following root causes of acne:

  • Excess sebum production
  • Sluggish digestion
  • Poor liver detoxification
  • Stress
  • PMS
  • Hormonal disruptions

This supplement is suitable for all skin types. It only takes one week of supplementation to start seeing results. With continued use, it can prevent inflammatory breakouts, saving you from future pimple pain and paving the way for a clearer complexion.

Overcome Painful Pimples Once and For All With CLEARSTEM Skincare

In summary, you don’t have to put up with painful pimples forever. By following the five steps above, you can find meaningful pain relief and prevent pimples from forming in the future. 

All you need is CLEARSTEM’s skincare for acne-prone skin, including our non-comedogenic moisturizer that ensures your pores remain unclogged while keeping your skin hydrated. Our clean products can cleanse your pores and brighten your complexion. You’ll also be happy to learn that our products are free of toxins, silicones, and hormone disruptors. 

Explore our selection of clean skincare today. 


  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Skin Conditions By The Numbers. https://www.aad.org/media/stats-numbers
  2. NIH. Acne. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/acne
  3. Cleveland Clinic. Inflammatory Acne. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22765-inflammatory-acne
  4. Medline Plus. Immune response. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000821.htm
  5. Medical News Today. Is inflammation painful?https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423#is-it-painful
  6. Verywell Health. Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation and Acne. https://www.verywellhealth.com/post-inflammatory-hyperpigmentation-15606
  7. Medical News Today. Can you treat acne with ice?https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/ice-on-pimple
  8. Cleveland Clinic. Do Pimple Patches Actually Work?https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-do-pimple-patches-work/