Basic Grooming: How to Make a Pimple Go Away ASAP

Advice from a cosmetics industry insider, an esthetician and some dermatologists.

Pimples

Dermatologists have told us time and time again that popping a pimple is just about the worst thing you can do. But when you have a colossal yellow honker growing from your forehead, something needs to be done, so I spoke with several skincare experts about their approaches to making unsightly pimples go away right now, please, I have a date tonight. Here’s what they had to say.

Carina Chazanas, cosmetics industry insider and founder of DedCool fragrances: Pimple patches [which are literally small patches meant to be worn on pimples] all day every day. They protect the pimple from hair and oil, plus they prevent you from picking, which only increases inflammation and healing time. They also extract the icky stuff — the patches are made with a hydrocolloid dressing, which pulls dirt and oil out of the pores. You can wear them overnight, during the day — whenever, really. I even wear them in public, since they’re basically clear.

Robert Brodell, Professor and Chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center: Apply over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide, or a warm compress may help a boil-like acne spot to drain. When dealing with a larger module or boil, a dermatologist would inject a diluted steroid to make it flatten quickly. Of course, dermatologists can also treat them with oral antibiotics. Just don’t put toothpaste on the acne spot — there’s no scientific evidence that it works, and you look silly.

Anthony Rossi, dermatologist: The dermatological secret is to put one percent hydrocortisone on it, but we say that with a caveat, because we don’t want people to go out and smear hydrocortisone on their face — that’s not a good idea. But if you apply it in a short setting, like overnight, it does calm down the inflammation. You can also use ice, which helps calm down the inflammation, or a heating pad if the pimple is more cystic, since that may help bring it to a head.

Sarah Payne, esthetician and co-founder of Sarah Nicole Skincare: Most of us who suffer from breakouts are familiar with go-to skin-savior ingredients, like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and retinoids — they’re great for minimizing bacteria and healing pimples as quickly as possible. But what’s not so great is that all these ingredients have the potential to make our skin dry, flaky, sensitive and irritated, because they often increase cell turnover. If we don’t address these symptoms while trying to heal our breakouts, our pimples can get worse, or the leftover scarring can leave a mark for months (and even years). 

The best way to minimize the symptoms and after-effects is to support your skin barrier with a supportive product that replenishes your skin’s lipids. Also, wearing an SPF helps protect your breakout from UV rays that can increase scarring. Using this method helps our breakouts heal more quickly while reducing the inflammation we experience when dealing with acne.