How to Get Rid of Old Acne Bumps

Acne isn't fun when it's happening, and old acne bumps that won't go away can sap your self confidence. Popping pimples can lead to scars and bumps when not done correctly by a board-certified dermatologist. Acne bumps also occur as a result of particularly pesky pimples called nodules that become irritated and go deeper into the skin. Oftentimes nodules can't subside on their own, and the bumps stay on the skin until you visit a doctor. An aggressive acne-fighting daily regimen can diminish old acne bumps. If at-home skin care isn't sufficient to banish the bumps, contact your dermatologist for additional suggestions.

A woman is looking at her acne bumps in a mirror. (Image: AlexRaths/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Wash your face twice daily with an acne-fighting cleanser featuring anywhere from 2.5- to 10-percent benzoyl peroxide. Pump a dime-sized amount of cleanser onto your fingers and then gently massage it into your face using upward circles for about a minute. Rinse your face with lukewarm water and pat it dry with a soft, clean towel. This antibacterial medication prevents your pores from clogging so that new acne bumps don't form. The regular use of benzoyl peroxide can also help any prescription acne medications work better.

Step 2

Exfoliate once a day with a product containing salicylic acid. This can be mixed in with the benzoyl peroxide wash or used as a separate exfoliating scrub. Place a dime-sized amount onto your fingertips and gently massage along your T-zone and the areas where old acne bumps linger. Rinse your face well with warm water and pat dry with a towel. Salicylic acid works to slough off the top layer of skin that has clogged the pore. When this happens regularly, the bump has a better chance of dissipating on its own.

Step 3

Apply a retinoid to your acne bumps. New York-based board-certified dermatologist Jennifer MacGregor says that retinoids are extremely helpful in clearing bumps and brightening and healing the skin. Retinoids can be found in prescription-strength medications from your dermatologist or as retinol in over-the-counter products. Use as directed and ease up if your skin becomes red, itchy or flaky.

Step 4

Ask your dermatologist about other medications or procedures that can banish your old acne bumps. Other options include microdermabrasion treatments, laser therapy and injecting the bumps with corticosteroid. Consult with your doctor about which method is best for you based on the severity of the bumps and your skin type.

Things You'll Need

  • Acne cleanser with benzoyl peroxide

  • Towel

  • Salicylic acid scrub

  • Retinoid


Always wear a SPF 30 sunscreen with zinc when outdoors.

Use an oil-free moisturizer even with oily skin; your face may tend to dry out while using the acne products.


The combination of benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid is too drying for some people.

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