Pimples UNDER the skin, anyone?

Ever had one of those huge, deep, under-the-skin pimples that feel more like a tumor than a zit? The ones that make part of your face look swollen, hurt like hell and are almost impossible to conceal? Worse still, the ones that take forever to heal since the pore is clogged so deep below the skin surface that medication just doesn’t work on them? I got one of these stubborn monsters on my lip line a couple of months back and couldn’t even drain it because the pea-sized bump refused to develop a head. Which became a huge problem, especially since I had a humdinger of a royal event to attend last weekend and did not enjoy the thought of going with swollen, lopsided lips that made me look like a clown. So, it was time to dig deep and wide, looking for remedies… and here’s what I found by way of drawing out the pimple and making it subside.

prid-drawing-salvePrid’s Drawing Salve

It’s black, greasy and seriously stinky but there is nothing else in the world like this old homeopathic remedy to draw out a pimple or a boil. Along with zit-busting and anti-inflammatory agents like Phenol and Ichthammol (which has a hefty dose of Sulphur), Prid’s Drawing Salve also contains Arnica for bruising, Calendula for healing and Echinacea for its antiseptic qualities. Basically, you dab it onto the bump at night and cover it with a Band-aid. This “draws the poison,” as they’d say in the old days. I did this for just one night and by morning the inflammation had gone down by about 60% and the pimple had formed a white head. Which I proceeded to pop and drain (yes, I know you are not supposed to squeeze a pimple but sometimes you just have to do it!). Seriously, all this in one night – after suffering for 2 months! And its a steal at $5.55!

Hot compress

The other thing that can reliably speed the healing time of a subterranean pimple is a hot compress. Dip a washcloth in water that’s as hot as your skin can stand. Fold it up and apply it to the pimple. As the outer folds of the washcloth start to cool, refold it so the warmer inside layers are exposed and reapply. After 10-15 minutes, when the washcloth has cooled off, run it under more hot water Keep doing this for as long as you’ve got time. The heat will draw bacteria to the surface and soften the pore. That way, the next step – a spot treatment with 2 percent salicylic acid plus a pain reliever like menthol – can penetrate deep down and zap the infection faster than would happen naturally, giving underlying tissues the opportunity to heal sans a scar.

Hot-and-cold compress

Alternate hot compresses (as hot as you can stand without hurting yourself) and icy cold compresses on your pimple every 5-10 minutes until you see it develops a whitehead or begins to harden. The hot and cold compresses will expand and contract your pimple, helping to draw out the fluids and bring the infection to the surface.

draw-out-a-pimpleHot poultice

A friend of mine swears by this recipe that’s been handed down from her grandmother: Crush half a tablespoon each of onion, garlic and ginger. Mix them together and apply this poultice on the spot, then cover with a Band-Aid. This should bring even the deepest cyst to a head in a few hours. (PS: I would strongly suggest doing a patch test before putting garlic on your face, especially for those with sensitive skin.)

Tea bag compress

A warm tea bag placed directly over the pimple doesn’t just help bring the pimple to the surface but the tannins within – particularly in black tea – also help reduce inflammation.

For the unconventional

Joey Green, author of Amazing Kitchen Cures recommends a dab of Kiwi White Liquid Shoe Polish to help dry out subterranean pimples and bring them to the surface. He also recommends dabbing on some Preparation H to shrink the spot.

The Hollywood Method

If the pimple is bad enough and hasn’t formed a head, ask your dermatologist whether a cortisone shot is right for you. It stings but is a surefire way to shrink even a massive under-the-skin zit within 24 hours.


  1. OMG I cannot BELIEVE you just posted this. Been suffering from one of these for almost two weeks until just yesterday–and I never get these–which almost made it worse because I was so incredibly lost on what the heck to do about it. Thanks for the tips! I should keep that salve around just in case it happens again.

          1. I read this article and I had a quarter sized under the skin cyst. After reading about Prids I went to Walmart and bought a tin. I used it and over night it was almost completely gone. Unbelievable!!! I will never be without it and will buy one every time I visit Walmart. Thank you so much for the information.

        1. I got mine ata local drug store Walmart I k ow Carries it but where ever may b located in sute the drug stores around u should have it I got it at a min n pup pharmacy under 10 dollars A run if will last u a life time I will repost and let u know I have one on my face belie cheek bone it hurts and there’s heat coming from it And it’s deep n hard I just put prid on it covered it with bandaid as directed so we shall see

    1. The past week my chin would burn whenever I applied makeup and I thought oh no, it’s an inner pimple, the next thing I know my chin is swelling up in a shape like ball under my lip, I immediately Google! And find this article and I bought the Prid cream an hour later! I’m hoping the swelling goes down it’s gotten difficult to talk since it’s right in the middle of my bottom lip and center chin, and I’m not one to get pimples often so it’s very noticeable and embarrassing!!! I just applied the cream and covered it with a band-aid and hoping tomorrow morning the swelling has gone down to any size than what it is now.. I do feel as though the cream is working and so happy I came across this, I shall be checking up at other posts in this website 🙂 thank you!

    2. I use tea tree oil. Put some on a cotton swab and apply it on the affected area. Repeat 8 hours later. The pimle will be at full white head 12 hours after first application, and will not return if you drain it. It will have a hard crust, so use a needle to puncture it if you do drain it, like I do.

  2. Hi, A few weeks ago there was an article about pimples location on the face and diagnosis of the cuase based on where the pimple was on hte face. Could please point me to hte article.

    thank you

  3. So, I bought this drawing salve last week after reading this article, and somehow it is not quite working. Do you think it has to be one of those huge zits to make it work, or does a normal zit do? And how much of the stinky potion did you apply?
    Also, I bought the witch hazel today, and I am excited to try it out.

  4. It’s really a great and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you just shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Where can I find prid? I’ve never gotten one of these things, NOR heard of em so when I found it on my face and it swelled literally the whole left side of my face I started to FREAK!! I’ve gotten a boil on my hip and it was the most painful thing even, not to mention that it left an ugly scar. The thought of that happening to my face was just right ing. I came upon this and I feel so relieved! The description is on point and I’d really like to try this!

      1. I actually just googled it. I don’t know why I didn’t think of doing that before. Lol they had em at Walmart for about the price you mentioned and also at Walgreens for $6. Mine was literally the size of a quarter! The hard part at least, and the redness and swelling was my whole cheek. I applied the prid last night. The next morning the swelling was practically gone! Still there, just no where near as bad! By the time I was out of work the swelling was COMPLETELY gone, the hard part is smaller than a dime. I’ll probably apply it again tonight and I’m sure that should do the trick! Thank you so much for your advice!

  6. I’ve just started reading your blog and love love love it! As you can tell I am reading all your past articles because it’s so intriguing 🙂 In particular I love the organic, natural methods.
    I wanted to share my own zit remedy that’s simpler than the Hot Poultice you posted:
    After washing your face and drying, score a garlic tooth lengthwise, microwave for 12 seconds- careful, it will be hotter than you think! Open the garlic, and dab it directly onto the area. The garlic oil/juice will dry like a thin film sealing it in to disinfect. Now, you are ready to prep your face for the day or for bed.
    I do this at the earliest twinge to prevent anything from sprouting 9takes 2-3 times) and when I forget to do it and it has already started to grow to pause the pimple. It also flakes off scars that are left sometimes. Give it two to three days to fully flake of scars from already started ones.
    Keep up the awesome work! I am learning so much!

  7. I just tried the mix of onion, garlic and ginger. I will never try that again. Whether that means I’m sensitive or not I don’t know. I don’t think I’m any more sensitive than an average person… Immediately after putting it on with the band-aids I could feel it stinging and throbbing immensely. I thought that meant it just worked really well. And in a way it did, my underlying pimples are now way smaller, they don’t protrude as much. BUT, and this is a big one… I have a huge rash now on my face. I woke up to awfully tomato-red skin and I specifically did this treatment because I wanted to look good in front of my boyfriend, which I will be seeing today. Suffice to say it made it ten times worse.

    Immediately upon discovering this, I slathered on pure shea butter as it has healing properties. I really hope my skin will recover more or less in time, if 90% of the redness is gone by the time I’m meeting him, then there’s no big deal because my concealer can hide a slight redness. It can’t hide this though and it’s understandable! I plan on using an ice cube to reduce the redness even further, I have to plan my whole day around how to minimize the redness now… I’m not blaming the author, just saying, use caution! I’m not allergic to any of the ingredients, still it hurt like a bitch. I didn’t know what to expect.

    1. Did you honestly just say your not a sensitive person in regards to a skin treatment reacting adversely? lmfao. That is probably why the author specifically said to try and do a test patch somewhere OTHER THAN your face at first. To see how sensitive YOUR SKIN is and how it reacts.

    2. Happened to me before. You’re not supposed to leave garlic or onion, or even ginger, very long on you face. Garlic especially BURNS, literally, your skin.
      Just do 5-8mn masks and it should be fine.

  8. Thank you so much for this advice! I have had these things all my life and never knew what to do about them. I currently had one for four weeks with no end in sight. I tried the Prid product last night and by today, it had softened and I was able to pop it. It is now half the size and it feels so much better! There is still some size to it; do you think I should do another treatment with the Prid or do a traditional spot acne treatment?

  9. I hate these things. though of course, calling them “pimples under the skin” is inaccurate, but I suppose its less likely to freak people out. I mean, calling them Abscesses sounds a lot scarier. In any event… They are bacterial infections and any remedies should consider that.

    While most of the time you’re fine, and most of the time these things heal fine on their own… be careful. You don’t want it rupturing and spreading through your blood and becoming a systemic infection. Which likely will not happen to you. But it did to me.

    Skin ulcers are unpleasant.

  10. Hi, thanks for the creative solutions. I am going to try Prid tonight! I have one on my lip and it hurts pretty badly. I am already so self conscious of my lip since I have hyper pigmentation (looks like I have a dirty mustache). So add a zit to it and it makes it that much worse! Thanks again, hopefully it will work! Shelley

  11. Never heard of Prid’s; and my family’s pretty “old school” when it comes to remedies. They swear by Vick’s…and the occasional Coke bottle bottom. Seriously.

    Don’t know why, but vapo-rub will help draw out a head. And my PaPa suffered from horrendous boils; usually on the back of his neck. Years of “tractor tan” tends to become more like “tanned hide”, so skip the wimpy washrags (lol); my Granny used to heat up the thick bottoms of those old green Coke bottles! (Boys and girls…DO NOT try this at home!)

    My doctor said zits are really just mini staph infections—and I have an auto-immune disease, so they spread like necrotizing fasciitis. Right now I have so many splotches on my face, and fluid blistered under my skin, I feel like one of those squishy water mats for babies.


  12. I wish I had read this even one day ago. I’ve had one of these for almost a month and it was driving me crazy, so I decided to take matters into my own hands last night and try to dig it out. Horrible decision! Didn’t work and now I have an even larger, even redder SCAB on my face. Wonderful. I feel too ashamed to even leave my house. Would any of these remedies still work? Because even though it’s now covered in a scab, the pimple is still under my skin, still painful as ever. I neeeed to get rid of it as soon as possible!

    1. If you try tee tree oil, it will work, but put some on a “test patch” to see if your will react poorly in a control area. Like on the inside of your wrist, first. Not on your face. If that doesn’t have a reaction, then the under-the-skin-pimple will come to a head, even though it a a scan. In about 12 hours. Put some on a cotton swab, put it on the effected area, then again after about 8 hours. When it has a white head it will have a crust to it. If you choose to drain it, use a needle first. It won’t come back. 🙂

  13. I have one right now in my chin and it hurts! it kills the pain is unbelievable and I tried the garlic solution and it didn’t give me any results but to make it more red but idk hopefully if I get prid it will work on me but hearing the results of people I might just go pick it up at Walgreens

  14. Thank you so much! The PRID’s is a live saver. It didn’t entirely disappear overnight but it did shrink considerably. I also put it on the other zits on my face and it worked like a charm on them. I don’t usually break out so I was super upset when i found this awful painful zit. But the PRID brought down the swelling and the redness and some of the pain. I think that I popped the zit under my skin though because no head is appearing and I had been picking at it. I’ve had to wash off my chin like every hour though because of the drainage. Do you think it would be good for the skin to do a PRID mask?

  15. omg I got one of these on the left side of my forehead yesterday and I seriously thought it was a tumor lol!! I’ve never had a zit this big, but your desription fits perfectly. I just hope I can find Prids from where I live, because my forehead looks crazy right now and it hurts!!

  16. OMG OMG OMG!!! YOU ARE MY HERO!! No for real!!!!!!!! I always get these nastyyyyyyy under skin zits cz my pores are the size of a little country. I will get the Prid and like you said keep it in every corner of my house. Would you recommend to use prid on pimples too?? like the one which have a head. I have a very bad BAD habit of popping zits. 🙁 which has left several marks on my face.

  17. I have a huge under the skin zit and it started to drain this morning but not the usual puss but a yellowish liquid and now it has a scab on it. I’m very fair skinned and I was just wondering if the prid cream will stain my skin? And if I should even use it since the pimple has a scab? Please help

  18. I have suffered from Cystic Acne for nearly 8 years, I am posting what cured my problem on the hope it will help someone else. I tried many antibiotics over the years, all the creams you can get, I went vegetarian for one year, and I went without diary for 6 months. I tried taking all the health supplements you can think of. I did all the “natural stuff” – the cleaning, the cleansing, avoiding this/that, everything (yes even EVERYTHING posted above). I took outrageous amounts of vitamin A. I watched my diet like crazy, and chugged water everyday. I had tried EVERYTHING!!! Seriously everything! Finally, I tried one more drug before I would take Accutane (way too scary, dont take it, its essentially chemotherapy). My Derm prescribed Spironolacto – he told me I have to be patient with it. I take 50mg twice per day. After two months of being on it my face was CLEAR – since then, its been 6 months, I have had NO BREAKOUTS!!!! (I used to have a new breakout every week) I am over the moon and I wanted to share my success!!

    1. My dermatologist put me on Spirolactone as well for hormonal acne. It worked really well, about 80% of my acne was gone. Unfortunately I can no longer take it because I am trying to get pregnant. But I highly recommend it to anyone suffering from bad acne.

  19. I recently popped a huge deep blackhead and it swellef up my face I I then covers it w make up cause it was noticeably embarrassing we’ll the make up irritated it so now I have a huge red spot and where the zit came out got huge and is yellowish I’ve trued peroxide neosporin and it isn’t working please help me get rid if this redness and infected look

  20. Hi, I have problem with these things and this appears on my face and my ass over an year. I am from Czech republic and nothing helps…nothing helps me…I had to go cut it… I don’t know what to do anymore…I would need help.

  21. Your opening line speaks volumes! It feels so good to hear someone who understands how calling it acne/pimples is so invalidating. It feels nothing like a normal zit. It really does feel more like a tumor.

  22. I had this one blind pimple and I didn’t know what it was. I tried everything to get it to go away. Then finally I tried the toothpaste method and I got fast results. Thank you for the post.

  23. So strange that a friend of mine just had a tin out the other night for an ingrown hair. I didn’t know it would work for this. Thanks for posting. I’d never heard of it before this week and I’m getting some. I thought something was seriously wrong with me to have this kind of pimple (luckily not on my face) but it HURTS….

  24. Literally freaked out after realizing i had a huge under the skin zit.,..found this article ordered the prids off Walmart…still waiting for mit to arrive….but in the mewantime…my mom had some tea tree toothpaste…and literrally i put some on my face….because i couldnt go thru this painful experience any longer and it worked….along with the hot compress…

    Meanwhile the Prids is in the mail…SMH>

  25. I have many under the skin pimples. These pimples are quite bumpy. I also have some small comedones on my face. I have tried using tea tree oil, many home remedies such as nutmeg+cinnamon+honey, aloe vera,etc. I also tried few oral anti-biotics and creams such as clindamycin,adapalene, benzoyl peroxide.
    I have not seen much change in the pimples even after all these treatments. I want to go for Prid’s but my skin is quite sensitive. So, is it safe to use Prid’s for such skin? Is it useful for small white heads?
    I have also heard that this remedy has gone wrong for few people causing serious skin issues. Is it safe to use it without medical prescription?

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