We can think of a few four-letter words that express how we feel about getting a pimple. But instead of adding stress to our lives, which only makes breakouts worse, we simply want to get rid of pesky zits without popping them and regretting it later.
So we asked a few skincare experts to provide us with a simple guide to acne treatment. From which type of soap works best to cleanse without clogging, to the products you should apply before bed to help your skin clear up faster, here's what you need to know about pimples.
Even though the urge is ever-present, don't pop your pimple.
"The pus in a pimple is highly inflammatory so when it's squeezed, it makes everything worse," says Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, DC. "A pimple is temporary, but the risk of scarring increases significantly and can be permanent."
Instead, Dr. Tanzi recommends using a hot compress and spot treatments with either benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to encourage your pimple to pop on its own. "Over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone can be helpful when dabbed on the spot overnight," she adds. We also suggest drugstore staples like Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Vanishing Treatment Cream or Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions Spot Treatment.
"Many patients use products that contain retinoid, a vitamin A derivative, at night to make the lesions better," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michael H. Gold. "They actually work at the start of the acne process."
To stop the spread of acne-causing bacteria, wash your face with antibacterial cleanser.
"Acne is a multifactorial skin disease which has at its roots ... genetic and hormonal components. Pimples form from blockage of pores, growth of a specific acne bacteria and inflammation," explains Dr. Gold. While medicines can minimize outbreaks in many cases, effective cleansing and keeping your hands off your face help to stop the spread of existing p. acnes -- the culprit behind red, inflammatory acne papules, pustules and cysts.
Lasers and heated light sources can make acne better.
According to Dr. Gold, most acne therapies take weeks to start having a true effect on reducing pimples. "Blue LED light therapy can actually reduce this time significantly, sometimes to just several days, to make acne lesions go away." Try at-home lasers like the Tanda Power Zap Acne Clearing Device or Tria Skin Perfecting Blue Light.
If you have a breakout of many pus bumps all at one time, immediately see a doctor.
"This actually may not be acne, but rather a staph infection," says Dr. Tanzi. Going to a dermatologist may not be at the top of your list of priorities when it comes to pimples. However, even very mild acne can be a major issue and your doctor will be able to help you determine the necessary forms of acne treatment.
"There are hundreds of different acne treatments that are touted to work better than anything before it," Dr. Gold adds. "For the most part, over-the-counter medicines can help a little, and prescription medicines can help a lot. Homemade regimens are popular in some places, but not recommended by most dermatologists. Prescription medicines go through a rigorous FDA routine to prove efficacy and safety before getting on the market."
Shop our product picks to help you achieve an even skin tone:
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