Don’t let a blemish ruin your day. Instead, learn more about the types of skin blemishes and how to treat them so you can enjoy more good skin days.

right mark

Copied to Clipboard

wrong mark

Skin Blemishes: Types, How To Get Rid Of Them, And Prevention

It's hard not to feel self-conscious when you have a skin blemish. These marks can be unsightly and make you feel like everyone is looking at you. But you're not alone. Millions of people deal with skin blemishes every day.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to achieve clearer-looking skin and feel more confident. In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to know to minimize blemishes and get back to better skin days.

Table Of Contents

What Is A Skin Blemish?

A woman with skin blemishes on her face

A blemish is any mark or abnormality that affects the appearance of something. So, a skin blemish is any noticeable imperfection on your skin.

While technically any type of mark or discoloration on the skin can be considered a blemish, when someone talks about skin blemishes, they're typically referring to spots from acne (as opposed to birthmarks, eczema patches, or scaly skin from psoriasis).

Types Of Skin Blemishes

Now that you know what a blemish is, let's look at common skin blemishes that acne leaves behind.

  • Whiteheads: Small, white bumps that form when a pore becomes blocked and inflamed.
  • Blackheads: Black or yellowish bumps that appear when the pores become clogged with dead skin cells and oil.
  • Pimples: Red, inflamed bumps filled with pus. They can range from small to large and may be painful to the touch.
  • Nodules: Deep, painful lumps that form when a pore becomes clogged with sebum (the natural oil your skin produces).
  • Cysts: Large, pus-filled lumps that feel like they’re under the skin. They can cause scarring if not treated appropriately.

Sometimes, you'll only have one or two of these blemishes on your face, but they can also appear on other places on your body, including your chest and back.

The severity of your acne (and subsequent plan for getting rid of it) is related to the number and type of blemishes you have.

Severity Of Acne

Woman with severe acne on her face

While there isn’t a universally accepted grading scale for acne, some dermatologists use a scale of 1-4 to determine the severity of blemishes. This scale helps them decide which treatments might be most effective.

Grade 1: Mild Acne

With this type of acne, you’ll have a few whiteheads or blackheads and very few (if any) inflamed pimples. Mild acne comes and goes and is usually easy to treat.

Grade 2: Moderate Acne

At this level, you’ll have more white- or blackheads and some inflamed blemishes. You may also have a few nodules or cysts in addition to the other types of acne.

Moderate acne is often more complicated to treat than mild acne. You’ll need to pay better attention to your everyday skincare routines and ensure you aren’t doing anything that could worsen your condition.

Grade 3: Severe Acne

Severe acne is characterized by larger, more inflamed blemishes that may spread across your face, neck, and chest. It can also include a few deeper nodules or cysts that are hard to eliminate without medical intervention.

Grade 4: Cystic Acne

This type of acne consists mainly of nodules and cysts. It’s the most severe form of acne, and since the blemishes are so deep, they can cause scarring if not treated properly.

Thus, over-the-counter remedies and DIY home treatments are usually not enough. You’ll likely need the help of a trained dermatologist to resolve this condition.

How To Get Rid Of Blemishes

Depending on the type and severity of your blemishes, you can embrace a few strategies for getting rid of them. Let’s take a look.

Home Remedies

Woman applying a colloidal oatmeal face mask to help get rid of blemishes

If your acne isn't too severe or if you prefer a more DIY approach, home remedies might help. These can reduce inflammation and start you on the path to clearer-looking skin.

Options include applying honey or tea tree oil to the affected area, taking a turmeric supplement, and cleansing with plant-based ingredients like green tea and apple cider vinegar.

A colloidal oatmeal face mask is another easy-to-make and effective remedy for blemishes. To make one, blend three tablespoons of colloidal oatmeal with a teaspoon of honey. Once this is mixed, stir in a teaspoon of white vinegar. Finally, add enough water to create the right consistency.

Apply the mixture to your face and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it off. Your face will feel luxurious!

Of course, home remedies aren’t always enough. If your acne persists, it’s best to add in some more traditional approaches.

Over-The-Counter Medications

If your acne is more severe or the home remedies don’t seem to be doing much, consider trying over-the-counter medications that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

These products can help unclog your pores and reduce the appearance of acne. And they come in a variety of creams, gels, or spot treatments.

No matter which type you go with, always take time to read the directions and do a patch test. Start by applying a tiny amount to a small area of your skin. If you don’t notice any irritation or discomfort after 24-48 hours, it’s likely okay to use on the rest of your skin.

Though this takes time, doing a patch test will help ensure that you don’t experience any adverse reactions, such as redness or excessive dryness, from the product.

Prescription Strength Medication

If over-the-counter medications aren’t enough and your blemishes are getting worse, it’s time to talk to your dermatologist about stronger prescription treatments. These could include topical retinoid creams, antibiotics, contraceptives, or other oral acne medication.

You may need to try a few treatments until you find one that works. This is why it’s crucial to stay in contact with your dermatologist and keep them updated on your progress

Laser Therapy

Woman getting laser therapy to treat skin blemishes

Some people experience noticeable results from laser therapy. This treatment uses high-intensity light to penetrate deep into the skin and reduce inflammation. However, if you go this route, expect to need multiple treatments.

And before you opt to begin laser therapy, discuss the pros and cons with your dermatologist. There’s the potential for permanent discoloration or scarring, though you minimize risks by having a trained professional administer the treatment.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels can help reduce the appearance of acne scars, wrinkles, and other blemishes by exfoliating your skin. A dermatologist can do this by applying an acid solution to the affected area that causes it to blister and peel away, revealing fresh new skin.

But this intense treatment can dry your skin out and may damage your protective layer. Work with your dermatologist to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks.

How To Prevent Pimples And Other Blemishes

Here are a few tips if you’re prone to blemishes and want to prevent them from returning.

Wash Your Face Regularly

No matter what type of acne you're dealing with, keeping your face clean is integral to preventing and reducing blemishes. Wash your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser to remove dirt, oil, and bacteria.

When washing, be gentle. Use your fingertips to apply cleanser, and rinse your skin carefully.

Keep Your Skin Hydrated

Woman drinking water from a bottle

Your skin needs moisture to thrive. You can deliver this moisture in two ways: by drinking enough water and by using a moisturizer.

On average, aim to drink eight glasses of water per day. This helps moisturize your skin from the inside out. It’s also important to moisturize regularly to prevent your skin from producing too much sebum, which may lead to clogged pores and blemishes.

Avoid Harsh Elements

The sun, wind, and cold can all irritate your skin, leading to more breakouts. Protect yourself by wearing weather-appropriate clothing (like a scarf or hat) when you go out in inclement weather.

And always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen when you're out and about. The sun can cause wrinkles, age spots, and other blemishes.

Finally, if you live in a dry climate, consider investing in a humidifier for your home. This can add moisture to the air and help keep your skin comfortable even when the outside air is dry.

Choose Gentle Cleansers

Chemical-laden cleansers can strip your skin of its natural protective barriers and make it harder for it to heal. Whenever possible, choose gentle, botanical-based cleansers free of sulfates and other harsh chemicals.

Always take time to read labels and check for warnings. You want to ensure that whatever you apply to your skin won’t irritate it or cause even more breakouts.

Blemish, Be Gone!

Woman with clear skin smiling

No one wants a blemish on their face. That’s why you need a plan to eliminate them when they appear.

Follow the tips above, and consult your dermatologist if you feel overwhelmed or unsure where to start. You can keep your skin blemish-free and healthier-looking with the right combination of treatments and prevention methods!

For even more skincare tips to help you enjoy better skin days, visit the Bodewell blog.


American Academy of Dermatology Association
American Society for Dermatologic Surgery
PubMed Central

Shop Bodewell