Receive a FREE online physician consultation + FREE priority shipping when you order now


Welcome to FaceForward

Get the scoop on all things beauty, wellness, and skincare.


A Definitive Guide To Blood-Filled Pimples

Anyone who’s experienced a breakout knows how tempting it can be to pick or squeeze at those pesky blemishes.

However, this can damage skin, cause unsightly blood-filled pimples, and it can even cause permanent scarring.

We’ve put this article together to help you understand the causes of blood-filled pimples and how to identify and avoid them. This article also outlines a number of effective treatment options to help you achieve clear and healthy skin.


  • Blood-filled pimples are regular blemishes that turn into red and swollen bumps when a blood vessel bursts beneath the skin. 
  • These vessels can burst because of picking, squeezing, or using harsh exfoliating products that cause microtears on the skin.
  • Preventing the development of regular blemishes may be one of the best ways to treat blood-filled pimples. Treatment options for blood-filled pimples include fine-tuning your skincare regimen, lifestyle changes, and oral medications.

What Is a Blood-Filled Pimple?

A blood-filled pimple is a red, swollen bump on the face or body.

They usually appear when a regular pimple is picked at or squeezed, and the blood vessels underneath the skin’s surface are damaged.

When the blood vessels burst, they become painful and fill the pimple with blood. These blemishes may also occur when using harsh skincare products. Exfoliating products that contain large or irregularly shaped particles—like walnut shells or jojoba beads—can cause microtears in the skin. These microtears may become inflamed or infected and start to bleed, leading to the formation of blood-filled pimples. 

What Is the Difference Between a Blood-Filled Pimple and a Regular Blemish?

Although a blood-filled pimple develops from a regular blemish, there are a few key differences between the two.


Regular pimples form when oil, dead skin cells, and other impurities clog pores. When bacteria then multiplies in the pore, it can become infected and start to swell.

Blood-filled pimples develop when the blood vessel underneath the skin bursts and bleeds. As mentioned before, this can happen due to picking, squeezing, or harsh exfoliants.

Woman cringing while popping a pimple


Regular pimples are often filled with white or yellow pus. Inflammation may also cause these blemishes to appear swollen and red.

Blood-filled pimples are pink or red bumps that don’t contain any pus but may contain blood, or a combination of the two. The skin around the pimple may also appear irritated and can be tender and painful to the touch.

Should You Pop Blood-Filled Pimples?

Repeatedly squeezing or picking at a blood-filled pimple can irritate the skin and cause inflammation.

When the skin becomes inflamed, its elastin fibers—which are essential for maintaining skin structure—start to break down and healthy tissue is lost.

This can cause permanent changes to the texture of the skin which contribute to the development of acne scars.

These lesions are often difficult to treat and some may not heal at all.

Popping pimples can also increase the risk of bacteria being transferred from hands onto the skin and into open blemishes. This can lead to a bacterial infection which causes the blemish to swell and become painful. Infected blemishes may also spread and cause more severe acne.

Woman in dermatology clinic getting assessed

How Do You Treat Blood-Filled Pimples?

One of the best ways to prevent blood-filled pimples is to avoid popping or squeezing blemishes at all!

Blood-filled pimples can also be avoided entirely if you put steps in place to treat and prevent acne

Manage excess oil production

Excess sebum (oil) that builds up on the skin may clog pores and cause blemishes.

Ensuring the skin is free from excess oil can help prevent bumps from forming and reduce the risk of developing a blood-filled pimple. One of the most effective ways to manage excess sebum is by using targeted skincare ingredients.

Topical retinoids

Topical retinoids, like retinol and  tretinoin, are synthetic forms of vitamin A and have powerful skin-healing properties.

This skincare ingredient is intended to help clear and heal skin by stimulating the skin’s cell turnover process. During this process, dead skin cells, dirt, and bacteria are pushed out of the pores and removed from the skin’s surface. 

This can help prevent a buildup of impurities that clog pores and cause blemishes to form.

The skin’s cell turnover process also promotes wound healing since it often replaces damaged skin cells with new ones.

This may help treat and heal acne scars that can form as a result of blood-filled pimples. 

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is an exfoliant intended to dissolve excess oil to help prevent clogged pores.

It may also gently “buff” skin to help remove dead skin cells and other impurities from the surface of the complexion.

When the pores are clear, and impurities are removed from the skin, the risk of developing future breakouts is minimized.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble ascorbic acid that helps the body to maintain overall health.

In skincare, vitamin C is used for its antioxidant and oil-regulating properties. This allows vitamin C to protect and repair damaged skin cells while clearing impurities from pores.

By stimulating the production of new cells, vitamin C may help heal damage caused by squeezing or picking the skin.

The new skin cells also remove dead ones, excess oil, and dirt from the pores to help prevent blemishes. 

Vitamin C may also help minimize the risk of scarring by replacing damaged skin tissue and cells with healthy ones.

Exfoliate once a week

Exfoliating helps to remove impurities from the skin to prevent buildup that can clog pores and cause blemishes to form.

Although harsh exfoliators can worsen breakouts and damage the skin, gentler options may be helpful in preventing future breakouts.

Azelaic acid

Azelaic acid is a gentle cleanser and exfoliant with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can help fight acne.

It’s intended to inhibit and remove harmful bacteria from the skin before these organisms infect blemishes. Infected blemishes can swell and become more painful. The infection might also spread to other pimples and make the breakout worse.

Azelaic acid is also designed to regulate the amount of oil on the skin, helping to prevent a buildup and to keep pores clear.

Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). As a gentle exfoliant, glycolic acid is intended to remove dead skin cells and excess oil by creating a peeling effect.

This means that glycolic acid bonds with impurities to draw them out of the pores and remove them from the surface of the skin. This helps glycolic acid to prevent blemishes from forming and keeps the skin free from impurities.

Try aesthetic treatments

For severe blood-filled pimples and blemishes, dermatologists may recommend aesthetic acne  treatments.

These procedures are performed by a skin aesthetician, beauty therapist, or dermatologist and are designed to remove blemishes manually. Popular aesthetic treatments include:

  • Laser therapy: This procedure uses targeted beams of light to kill bacteria and break up damaged tissue. The skin is encouraged to produce new cells, which helps to heal acne.
  • Drainage and extraction: A sharp tool will be used to pierce the blemishes and drain fluid and pus. Not only does this remove bacteria to unclog pores, but it also relieves pressure that can contribute to scarring.
  • Microdermabrasion: This treatment involves a deep exfoliation process that helps to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. Microdermabrasion may be too harsh for irritated or inflamed skin, so it’s recommended that you speak to your dermatologist beforehand. This can minimize the risk of further skin damage

Woman receiving a laser acne treatment

Prescription medications

If you’re not seeing results from OTC treatments after six weeks, it might be time to talk to your dermatologist (or an online dermatologist with Nava MD) about stronger acne medications.

These options may help regulate oil, soothe inflammation, and treat acne to help clear the skin.

Your dermatologist may recommend the following oral medications:


In low doses, antibiotics can inhibit harmful bacteria to prevent blemishes and minimize the risk of future breakouts.

It may also help clear inflammation and reduce the amount of oil on acne-prone skin. 


This is a potent retinoid used to treat severe forms of acne by decreasing sebum production and promoting the growth of new skin cells.

Isotretinoin is often used as a last resort because it may cause harsh side effects.

It must also be prescribed by a licensed professional who will monitor your skin and symptoms closely.

Woman's hand holding a few acne pills

Can You Prevent Blood-Filled Pimples?

You can prevent blood-filled pimples by avoiding picking at regular blemishes.

If you already have blood-filled pimples, you can incorporate the following steps into your daily routine:

  • Make sure the infected area is clean to prevent bacterial infections and inflammation. Use an alcohol swab or tea tree oil to remove impurities.
  • Apply a cold compress to swollen or painful blemishes to help reduce redness and inflammation.
  • Use noncomedogenic and fragrance-free products on your face. This helps avoid a buildup of impurities that clog pores, as well as irritation and dryness that can contribute to breakouts.

Achieve Your Best Skin with Nava MD

At Nava MD, our mission is to help men and women access high-quality skincare with the help of a dermatologist, from home.

We’ve formulated a range of prescription and OTC products with tried-and-true acne-fighting and healing ingredients.

We’ve made it easier than ever to get access to personalized prescription options from home.

It starts with an online skincare consultation, after which one of our licensed clinicians will be in touch to create your personalized plan and formula, which is blended and sent to your door if appropriate.

Not only is it all done online, but you have unlimited follow-up with your prescribing dermatologist.

Click here to learn more.

Back to home

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency