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There’s nothing quite as annoying as getting a zit smack-dab in the middle of your face. Unfortunately, these spots are super common. Noses tend to be kinda oily, with larger, clog-prone pores.
But what if you keep getting the same nose zit or constellation of zits over and over again? It’s probably either acne vulgaris or acne rosacea. Figuring out which one will help you nip your nose zits in the bud.
Here’s what you need to know about acne types, causes, and treatments for those zits on your nose.
Here’s a rundown of the two most common types of nose acne.
Acne vulgaris is classic acne. Y’know, the pimples you started getting in your teens? These blemishes involve clogged pores and look like:
- pus-filled bumps
- cystic zits (deeper and more painful)
If acne is the culprit behind your nose zits, you’re also pretty likely to get them on the rest of your T-zone:
Acne rosacea looks more like swollen, inflamed areas of skin than traditional acne. This redness or discoloration most often occurs on the nose and cheeks.
Symptoms of acne rosacea include:
- Rash: Yep, this rash often looks like pus-filled bumps or pimples on your nose or cheeks.
- Redness: In its early stages, rosacea might just look like a pleasant blush. (Exhibit A: 😊) But if it worsens, it turns into persistent bright redness that might tingle.
- Visible blood vessels: These typically look like red lines on your cheeks and nose.
- Skin thickening: Some folks notice thickened or scaly skin, especially on the nose.
- Eye probs: Acne rosacea can also lead ocular rosacea. Your peepers might get sore, itchy, watery, red, or dry. Sometimes it feels like there’s a piece of sand or eyelash in your eye. Eyelids can also swell, and styes can develop.
Rosacea tends to be triggered by factors like spicy food, alcohol, extreme temps, and even stress. It also typically worsens over time. In rare cases, acne rosacea can impact the ears, neck, or chest.
Acne rosacea vs. acne vulgaris
An estimated 14 million Americans have acne rosacea compared to the about 50 million Americans affected by acne vulgaris. So while you’re more likely to get acne vulgaris, both conditions are pretty common.
When scoping out your spots, keep in mind that it *is* possible to have both at the same time. When in doubt, see a dermatologist for a professional diagnosis.
Time to get nosy: Now that you know which type of acne you have, what’s triggering the breakouts?
What causes acne vulgaris?
Acne vulgaris is caused by clogged pores.
When your pores make excess sebum (oil), it clings to dead skin, dirt, and bacteria. The result? Clogged, inflamed pores that swell into pimples.
If you’ve got a good skin cleaning routine, you might wonder what’s clogging those pores so fast. There are two main culprits:
- Genetics: A 2020 research review found that having a family history of acne means you’re much more likely to develop it. So, if your parents or dear ol’ g-parents had zits, you’re probably gonna get them too.
- Lifestyle factors: Your hormones, stress, lifestyle, and diet may play a role in whether you get acne vulgaris.
The pros don’t know what causes rosacea, though many theories exist.
Rosacea’s trademark inflammation *could* be partially due to skin sensitivity or environmental stressors like ultraviolet (UV) light or microbes. Regardless, it seems like a blend of genetics and your environment plays a role.
Fun fact: Acne rosacea is also known as papulopustular rosacea — a fancy way of saying it causes pore inflammation. Inflamed pores look like little red bumps, which is why they’re easily mistaken for acne vulgaris.
Ready to nix the nose zits? Let’s look at your options.
How to get rid of acne vulgaris
How you combat acne vulgaris depends on whether you have noninflammatory acne (minor pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads) or inflammatory acne (deeper cysts and nodules).
You can probably treat basic blackheads and pimples with these over-the-counter (OTC) remedies.
- Spot treatments: OTC pimple patches are pretty clutch. So are spot treatments like Neutrogena’s On-the-Spot Acne Treatment, which has benzoyl peroxide to reduce inflammation and decrease the size and appearance of those pesky spots.
- Cleansers: Use a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Salicylic acid removes dead skin cells, which helps break down and prevent acne. CeraVe Renewing Salicylic Acid Cleanser and Differin Deep Daily Cleanser are solid picks.
- Acne creams, serums, topicals: Applying an all-over acne cream or serum to your entire nose might help you nip zits in the bud. CeraVe’s Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment with glycolic acid and lactic acid can help keep skin nourished *and* acne-free. AHAs like glycolic acid work to unclog pores by exfoliating the skin.
Inflammatory acne is the fieriest, most intense type of acne. If a whole section of your nose looks swollen from a zit, then it’s prob cystic.
A combo of OTC and prescription remedies can be used to treat this type, including:
- Benzoyl peroxide: Like with noninflammatory acne, benzoyl peroxide is a good pick for tackling cystic acne. But for best results, ask your derm for a formula that’s higher-strength formula than OTC products.
- Retinoids: A retinoid like Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment can accelerate skin cell turnover and regulate oil production.
- Hot or cold compresses: It might sound kind of basic, but to immediately ease inflammation and redness associated with cystic acne, try using a warm washcloth or some ice. It really works, especially when you want to soothe discoloration before heading out.
- Antibiotics: In severe cases, your derm may sometimes prescribe antibiotics (topical and nontopical) in combo with other treatments to manage inflammatory acne.
- Birth control or other meds: Sometimes inflammatory acne is hormonal. Your doc can help you pinpoint the issue and determine whether birth control pills or other meds might help rebalance your hormones.
Though there’s currently no cure for rosacea, there are treatments to help manage it. Since home remedies and OTC methods haven’t been proven effective, make an appointment with a doc.
Your dermatologist might recommend:
- Prescription topicals: Creams, ointments, and gels with antibiotics, antiparasitics, or vasoconstrictors (substances that narrow blood vessels) help treat redness, flushing, and mild rashes.
- Prescription retinoids: Prescription-strength retinoids are often used to treat severe rosacea.
- Laser or light therapy: These can shrink enlarged blood vessels to make them less visible. Laser therapy can also be used to help remove excess tissue in people who have thickened skin.
- Surgery: For severe acne rosacea that has caused thickened skin, a doctor might recommend surgery. The procedure might involve a scalpel or other specialized abrasive tools.
- Use skin care products formulated for rosacea: Products with inflammation-fighting vitamin E are great for soothing rosacea. Cetaphil Redness Relieving Daily Facial Moisturizer with vitamin E, licorice extract, and caffeine is a solid pick for keeping flush at bay. The best moisturizers for rosacea are free of alcohol, added fragrance, menthol, glycolic acid, and other irritating ingredients.
A good skin care routine is key to preventing excess oil and clogs. Products designed for sensitive skin can also relieve some of the irritation and inflammation associated with acne vulgaris and acne rosacea.
Here’s what experts recommend for acne management:
- Wash your face 2x daily: Use a gentle cleanser to remove pore-clogging dirt, oil, and makeup.
- Use a moisturizer 2x a day: After cleansing and applying acne treatments, moisturize with a product designed for your skin type.
- Skip the harsh scrubs and toners: Physical exfoliants and products with alcohol can make nose redness, discoloration, or dryness look a lot worse. Using alcohol-free, gentle products whenever possible.
- Pick products designed to treat your prob: Whip out that salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or retinoid serum on the reg to prevent issues down the road.
How do I get rid of a zit on my nose?
Most everyday zits can be minimized — and eventually eradicated — with common acne treatments like:
- pimple patches
- applying ice or a warm compress to reduce swelling
- OTC creams with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid
- medicated face cleansers
If you have recurring nose pimples that could be acne rosacea or severe acne vulgaris, consider consulting a dermatologist.
What does a zit on your nose mean?
Having a zit on your nose could indicate a random clogged pore, common acne, or acne rosacea, a skin condition characterized by redness, rashes, and pustules.
Should you pop a pimple on your nose?
Most derms advise against popping pimples, whether they’re on your nose or elsewhere. Pimple-popping can lead to swelling, infection, and even scarring.
That said, we know the temptation to pop those suckers. If you can’t resist the urge, wash your hands, apply a warm compress to the area for several minutes, and *then*use clean cotton swabs to slowly apply pressure onto both sides of the area. *Voila.*
How long do nose pimples last?
Run-of-the-mill pimples clear pretty quickly, though there’s no exact timeline.
With help from a pimple patch or spot treatment, small zits often clear within a few days. Deeper zits take longer to develop *and* tend to stick around longer.
- Chronic nose zits might not be much fun, but most can be treated or managed with at-home or prescription meds.
- How you treat your breakout depends on whether it stems from acne vulgaris or acne rosacea.
- Acne vulgaris can be treated with help from topical ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
- Acne rosacea doesn’t have a standardized treatment yet, but a dermatologist can help with symptom management.
- No matter what’s causing the zit on your nose, taking good care of your skin can also help prevent future probs.