So you’ve got a pimple? Chances are the arrival coincides with a major life event. Pimples have a cruel way of popping up just before first dates, important job interviews, school dances, and weddings. Curse you, zit monsters!
While you can’t fix a pimple in one hour (we wish), you can take steps to clear up a blemish overnight with a diligent regime. “Pimples are small micro-infections of hair follicles,” explains Dr. Purvisha Patel, board certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare. “You may not be able to get ‘rid’ of a pimple overnight, but you can make it look a lot better, so it appears to be gone.”
Dr. Patel broke down the ten key steps to getting rid of a pimple fast, or at least making the appearance of a bad zit less noticeable. Read on and good luck. You’ve got this. Your pimple doesn’t stand a chance!
Find the right ingredients
Dr. Patel explains that pimples are commonly caused by four things: follicular occlusion, microbe growth, sebum production or adding oil to your skin, and inflammation.
All these issues can be addressed and helped when a pimple is early in the game. “The most common way to address these issues is to use benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, tree oil or salicylic acid products before you go to bed,” says Dr. Patel.
Benzoyl peroxide is a bleaching agent that kills microbes and dries up oil in the follicle. Tea tree oil and sulfur also do similar things to benzoyl peroxide by drying up the pimple. “Using these products can make the pimple look smaller in the morning, ” explains Dr. Patel.
The final ingredient Dr. Patel recommends is salicylic acid. “Salicylic acid products not only dry up the pimple and kill any microbes, but also exfoliate the skin on top to let any accumulated puss out of the follicle,” says Dr. Patel. (Gross, but effective.)
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Acne Treatment
The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil
Murad Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion
Invest in a quality cleanser
Advanced Purifying Cleanser
“Exfoliating cleansers are perfect for acne, as they help unclog the pores to not only treat pimples, but also prevent them from occurring,” says Dr. Patel. “Visha Skincare Advanced Purifying Cleanser has salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, tea tree oil, and B vitamins to exfoliate the pores, decrease microbe growth and calm inflammation.” The cleanser also doubles as an overnight spot treatment.
Hydrocortisone cream is your best friend
“A quick fix for redness overnight, but not for more than three nights, is over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream,” says Dr. Patel. Make sure that the creams are not too thick so it won’t clog your pores. It’s best to find a hydrocortisone cream that is hyaluronic acid-based because hyaluronic acid is a water binding molecule that doesn’t clog pores.
Aveeno 1% Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream
Stay away from edible ingredients
Dr. Patel also notes that you should steer clear of creams that contain any edible ingredients like coconut oil, olive oil, and almond oil. “If we can eat the product, bacteria and fungus can eat the product, and this could possibly make more pimples.”
Trust spot treatments
“Spot treatments work better for overnight fixes,” explains Dr. Patel. “Blister bandages or hydrocolloid patches work by pulling the contents of a pimple out versus topicals that dry up the pimple.”
In case of an emergency, use cortisone injections
“They are truly for a pimple emergency.” says Dr. Patel. “Think a day before your wedding or prom-level of emergency.” Dr. Patel explains that steroid injections decrease inflammation of the pimple immediately but the side effects of steroid injections are skin thinning, lightning and possible indentation at the injection site. They are NOT recommended as regular pimple treatment at all.
Find the DIY trick for you
Who doesn’t love a good DIY at-home remedy? Dr. Patel has a few tips and tricks of the trade:
- A small crushed up aspirin paste to a pimple helps with drying up the spot and inflammation.
- Toothpaste, the opaque kind not gel, can be used to dry up pimples.
- Ice to a red pimple gives immediate blood vessel constriction and helps with redness.
- Over the counter nasal spray with aferin is also a vasoconstrictor so if the face is very red with lots of blood vessels around the pimple, putting a little of this on top helps with redness immediately.
Do NOT pop your zits!
“Squeezing them with non-sterile fingernails can lead to spread of the microinfection, more inflammation and scaring,” explains Dr. Patel. I know it may be tempting to pop that zit you see glaring at you in the mirror but DO NOT DO IT. Just say no.
Prevent pimples with a healthy lifestyle
“Putting products on pimples helps them go away, but they may not go away completely overnight, it takes times,” explains Dr. Patel. “It is possible to make them appear a lot less overnight though.”
In order to prevent pimples, it’s important to take care of our skin which is the largest organ of the body. “We need six glasses of water, eight hours of sleep, a multivitamin, and a probiotic,” says Dr. Patel. “Diets high in sugar and dairy are more prone for acne breakouts as well.” Take care of yourself, first and foremost.