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Nodular Acne: Why It Happens & How to Get Rid of It

There’s not much worse than developing an acne “lump.” You know the type-large, irritating, red bumps that develop on your skin, never come to a head, and stick around longer than an unwanted house guest. 

You can get them at any age, but most commonly they are experienced in your teens and twenties.

No matter what you do, it seems impossible to get rid of them. Picking doesn’t help, prodding around with a pin (yes, we’ve done it) is dangerous, and pimple creams seem to just slide off the skin. 

What you’ve got is called nodular acne, and if you’re desperate to get rid of these lumps and bumps, we’ll help you learn how. 

What is Nodular Acne?

Nodular acne is a type of acne, or acne that is characterized by large, red, inflamed bumps. 

Unlike other types of acne, like comedones, nodular acne can be painful, cystic, and hang out on your skin for literally months at a time. Comedones (aka whiteheads and blackheads) are usually only on your skin for a short period of time, and aren’t extremely painful.

Nodular acne is commonly found on the cheeks, jawline, and chin. It can also form on the back and chest. 

This type of acne bump affects deep layers of the skin, making it virtually impossible to “pop.” In fact, if you’ve ever attempted to squeeze a nodular cyst, you’ve probably wound up frustrated and with a larger, more irritated bump than you had before you squeezed. 

Symptoms of Nodular Acne

Not sure if what you’ve got is nodular or not? 

Here are the most common symptoms of nodular bumps:

  • Large, welt-like areas of swelling that feel like hard lumps.
  • Tenderness at the site of the bump and in the surrounding skin.
  • Bumps never or very rarely develop a white head. Typically, nodular acne stays deep under your skin. 
  • Nodular acne bumps can happen one at a time or in a cluster-style breakout. 

You may also feel that the nodular bump is warm to the touch. Your most trusted concealer may seem to slide right off when you attempt to cover it. 

Causes of Nodular Acne

Nodular acne can happen at any stage of your life, although it is most common in adolescence and during years of menstruation. You can even develop nodular acne into your late forties. 

Here are the most common causes of nodular acne:


Heredity seems to play a huge part in why some people struggle more with nodular acne. If one or both of your parents suffered from nodular, cystic acne, there’s a higher chance that you will experience it also. 

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be a life sentence. There are ways to help clear your skin and deal with nodular acne so you don’t have to suffer. 


Hormones play a big role in the development of acne, which is why it’s most commonly experienced during puberty, when hormones fluctuate most. 

The presence of androgens, a specific type of hormone, is directly linked to the development of nodular acne. The most well-known type of androgen is testosterone. Your testosterone levels peak as you approach ovulation, which can cause your skin to produce more oil. 

The oil your skin produces during this time is thicker and stickier than the oil your skin normally produces, which makes it more likely to clog your pores and form acne bumps. 

Even rising and falling levels of estrogen can trigger breakouts, including nodular acne bumps, so it’s not uncommon to get them just before your period.

Improper Skin Care

Let’s be honest, sometimes we just don’t take care of our skin like we should. It happens. A busy day turns into a busy evening, and by 10:30 p.m. the last thing on your mind is removing your makeup and cleansing your skin. 

However, when you hit the pillow with your makeup on, you create the perfect environment for bacteria to mix with oil, dirt, and dead skin cells and clog your pores, which may explain why you seem to constantly wake up with nodular bumps. 

Not cleansing before you hit the sack can also lead to a build-up of dead skin cells on the surface of your skin. These dead skin cells then get trapped in your pores, mixing with oil and makeup, creating bumps.

The Wrong Skincare Products

The cosmetics and skincare industry in the U.S. is under-regulated, which means some of your favorite skin care items could be sabotaging your skin because of their harsh, chemical ingredients. 

What’s worse, many of the ingredients in products designed to help you combat acne could actually be making your skin worse, stripping your skin of natural moisture and causing your skin to produce more oil.

Your Fingers

One of the worst things you can do for your skin is constantly touch it with dirty hands and fingers. Whether you have a habit of touching your face throughout the day or use your fingers to squeeze, poke, and prod at nodular bumps that already exist, you aren’t doing your skin any favors. 

Your fingers can spread bacteria into your pores which can lead to new bumps. If you attempt to squeeze a nodular bump, you can actually force germs from that bump into neighboring pores, creating new bumps and more irritation and inflammation. 

Although it can be tempting, you should never use any type of instrument (a pin, tweezers, etc.) to try to squeeze or pop a bump on your skin. This can create an infection and lead to scarring. 

How to Tackle Nodular Acne

So, how do you tackle these mountains of mayhem without losing your cool or taking a month long sabbatical from life? We’ve got 3 solutions that can help you get relief fast without losing your cool. 

1. Pimple Patches

Pimple patches come in the clutch when you need a fast fix for a bad bump. Pimple patches work by covering a nodular bump and protecting it from external stressors like makeup, dirt, pollution, and your own fingertips. 

Once you place a pimple patch on your bump, hydrocolloid technology will begin to work to gently pull the pus and bacteria from the bump, absorbing it into the patch. When you remove the patch, you’ll see clarified, healthy skin.

Rael even makes pimple patches specifically designed to deal with under the skin bumps, like the ones you develop with nodular acne. Our Microcrystal Spot Cover combines hydrocolloid technology with microcrystals to dig deep into the layers of your skin where nodular bumps form. 

Tea tree oil and germ fighting Totarol work to reduce blemish-causing germs while hyaluronic acid ensures your skin stays hydrated and free from irritation. Removing the patch is like saying abracadabra; the bump literally vanishes. 

2. Better Skin Care

If you’re constantly getting bumps, it’s time to reevaluate your skin care. It’s easy to get used to certain products and use them even when they are no longer effective on your skin. 

Your skin care products could also contain ingredients that are drying your skin, causing irritation, and even interfering with your hormones. We recommend a skin care system that is plant-based, gentle, and effective. 

It’s also important to remember that your skin needs moisture. Even if you feel like your skin is overly oily, your skin needs moisture. In fact, your skin could be oily as a result of being dehydrated. 

Dehydrated skin can cause sebaceous glands to produce more oil, which can lead to clogged pores, and the development of nodular bumps. 

3. Pre-Period Skin Care Treatments

If you seem to only develop nodular bumps before your period, you can learn to play defense and reduce a potential breakout before it starts. 

Rael’s tea treat sheet masks are designed to help take care of your skin before you start, when your hormone levels can start to make your skin produce more oil. Tea tree has astringent-like properties which allow it to deeply cleanse your pores and tighten them.

Our tea tree masks are a great way to keep your skin balanced and help you soothe yourself and your mood when you need it most. We recommend you light a candle, too. 

The Takeaway

Nodular acne can happen to anyone during any stage of their life, but it is especially common during the years you have your period. You can fight back against nodular acne by using tried and true holistic methods that keep you safe and battle the bumps without the use of harsh chemicals. 

Rael brings you the very best in both period care items and skin care items, designed to help you feel balanced and calm all month long. No matter what your monthly cycle brings, you can feel prepared, with natural, holistic period care items from Rael. 


Acne: More Than Skin Deep | BMJ Journals 

Serum Levels of Androgens in Acne & Their Role in Acne Severity | NCBI 

More Regulation Needed to Combat Risks From Cosmetics | The Reg Review 

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