We’ve all been there. You wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and see a giant zit staring back at you. Suddenly, you remember that important meeting or date tonight and you realize that you need to get rid of pimples fast. While it’s natural to want to take matters into your own hands and start picking, this can actually make things worse.
Dermatologists recommend against popping pimples because it can lead to scarring and further inflammation. So what should you do if you’re looking for a strategy to make an acne flare-up calm down this second? Read on for our Dos & Don’ts of calming inflammation and healing irritated skin stat!
Dermatologists agree that the number one reason skin breaks out is because of stress. “When you’re stressed, your body ramps up its production of hormones like cortisol, which can lead to excess oil production and inflammation—both of which contribute to acne breakouts,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. So what’s a derm-approved way to de-stress? Zeichner suggests taking five minutes out of your day to do some deep breathing exercises.
Do see a dermatologist.
Acne is never fun, but there are ways to deal with it. Seeing a dermatologist as soon as possible is the best way to get rid of acne fast. Picking at your skin will only make it worse, so be gentle with your skin. Using harsh products can also irritate and inflame the skin, so be careful when choosing products to use. Be patient and see a dermatologist to get started on the right treatment for you.
Don’t limit acne treatment to just your skin-care products.
Don’t limit acne treatment to just your skin-care products. Your diet plays a role in your skin health, so make sure you’re eating plenty of nutrient-rich foods and drinking lots of water.
Do consider zinc supplements.
Zinc has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which makes it an ideal supplement to take when you’re dealing with acne. It can help heal existing blemishes and prevent future breakouts. Look for a supplement that contains zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, or zinc acetate.
Don’t pick at your pimples.
Picking at your pimples can cause them to become inflamed and irritated. It can also lead to scars. If you can’t resist the urge to pick, make sure you do it with clean hands and nails to avoid further irritation.
Do use a topical spot treatment.
Spot treatments are over-the-counter (OTC) products that contain active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or sulfur. They’re applied directly to the pimple to help dry it out and heal it faster. Do a patch test on a small area of skin first to make sure you’re not allergic to the OTC product.
Don’t use harsh chemicals or scrubs.
Harsh chemicals and scrubs can irritate the skin and make acne worse. Choose gentle cleansers and avoid scrubbing the skin too vigorously.
Do apply a warm compress.
A warm compress can help soothe inflamed pimples and speed up the healing process. Soak a clean washcloth in water that’s been heated to 115°F (46°C). Apply the warm compress to the pimple for about five minutes. Do this two to three times a day until the pimple is gone.
Don’t touch your face.
Touching your face can transfer bacteria from your hands to your face, which can cause blemishes. If you must touch your face, make sure you wash your hands first.
Do try tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil is an essential oil with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s been shown to be effective in treating acne, but it can be drying so it’s important to use it in moderation. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to a clean cotton swab and apply it directly to the pimple. Do this two to three times a day until the pimple is gone.
Don’t over dry the affected area.
One of the first things you should avoid doing is over drying the affected area. This will only irritate your skin more and could lead to further breakouts. Instead, opt for a gentle cleanser that won’t strip your skin of its natural oils. You can also try using a topical spot treatment to target individual pimples.
If you have sensitive skin, be sure to test the product on a small area first to make sure it won’t cause any irritation.
Do avoid dairy and processed foods.
Dairy and processed foods are high in inflammatory compounds that can trigger acne. If you’re trying to get rid of pimples fast, it’s important to avoid these foods as much as possible.
Don’t believe every DIY hack you see.
Just because some random person on the internet says that rubbing a banana peel on your face will get rid of acne doesn’t mean it’s true. “The reality is, there are very few quick fixes for acne,” says Dr. Lee. The best thing you can do is stick to gentle ingredients and give your skin time to heal.
Do eat antioxidant rich foods.
Antioxidant-rich foods help fight inflammation and support the immune system, which is important for healing blemishes. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet.
We know it’s easier said than done, but try to take a deep breath and remember that acne happens to everyone—even celebrities, supermodels, and presidents. Second, don’t pick, scratch, or touch your skin in any way. This will only make things worse and increase the chances of scarring.
By following these simple tips, you can help get rid of pimples fast—and prevent them from coming back. Just remember to be patient and gentle with your skin—and don’t forget to keep up with a regular skincare routine even when you’re not dealing with a breakout. With a little time and care, you can help keep your skin clear and glowing all year long.