Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Why won't my pimple heal?"

ZocdocAnswersWhy won't my pimple heal?


There is a pimple on the side of my neck that has been there for over a month. It just won't heal. I'm nervous that it is not a pimple but something serious. Could it be a boil? How can I tell the difference?


If you have a sore area on the skin that has not gotten better for over 1 month, then I suggest that you go see your primary care doctor for further evaluation. Sometimes, pimples take a long time to heal, especially if you keep squeezing or picking at it. The repeated trauma from manipulating the area with your fingers will keep the tissue from healing. If you have been doing this, you might try leaving the area alone for a few days to see if it gets better. However, if not, you will need to see your doctor. A boil is a deep infection of the hair follicle, usually caused by common bacteria that live on the surface of the skin. Unlike a pimple, the area of redness, pain, and inflammation around the hair follicle is usually large. Boils often do need to be evaluated and treated by a doctor, especially if they have been going on for so long. Common treatments include warm compresses to draw out the inflammation and topical anti bacterial ointment to keep down the infection. However, large boils also often require a prescription for oral antibiotics in order to get the infection under control. Please talk to your primary care doctor.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.