Dermatologists recommend treating a pimple with a topical over-the-counter acne treatment containing benzoyl peroxide, retinoid acid or salicylic acid. Simply wash the pimple and the area around it with warm water and a mild soap or cleanser, apply a thin coat of the topical cream and repeat twice a day until the blemish is gone. Avoid picking or scratching at the blemish, as this could make it worse and take longer to clear up.
To Pop or Not to Pop a Pimple
Although it is tempting to zap a zit on sight, dermatologists advise against popping pimples, which can lead to scarring, blemishes or infections on top of the emotional distress a high-profile pimple can cause.
"When it comes to popping a pimple, you shouldn't be the one doing it. In fact, you can die from popping a pimple," Beverly Hills cosmetic dermatologist Debra B. Luftman, M.D., said in a 2011 Los Angeles appearance. "This area right in here (from the forehead to in between your eyebrows to the upper part of the nose, not the tip) is called the danger zone, and if you pop a pimple in this area it can cause a clot – a bacterial clot – to go right to the head and brain and cause a stroke. So, never pop a pimple."
When a pimple is part of a bigger skin condition, you'll want to see a dermatologist about possible acne treatments. Acne can strike at any age. Its causes include hormonal changes and a buildup of dirt and oil on the skin. Even if you do your best to keep your skin clean and free of blemishes, pimples can still pop up. While you may feel the urge to pop that pimple, there are other ways to deal with it that are safer and won't permanently damage your skin.
Acne manifests in a variety of ways: What may start as a whitehead can then develop into an inflamed bump or pimple. The condition can also come in the form of blackheads, nodules and cysts. Acne's causes may include stress, diet, nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances. There are four ways hormones may influence acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology: production of excess sebum, an oil gland secretion; accumulation of skin cells clogging the hair follicle; an increase in acne-causing bacterium Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes; and skin inflammation.
Acne frequently appears on the forehead, nose and chin area – also known as the T-zone – but may also appear on the chest, back, neck, shoulders, upper arms and buttocks.
In addition to topical treatments for your outbreak, you can opt for oral antibiotics if you are experiencing a severe level of acne. Dermatologists can prescribe them depending on the level of severity. If you do opt for oral antibiotics, remember to ask about probiotics to complement the treatment and keep your body in balance.
The AAD notes that dermatologists may also treat your acne in office treatments, which include lasers and other light therapies, chemical peels or an injection of medicine. A dermatologist may also perform "drainage and extraction" on a large cyst that does not respond to topical treatments.
How to Treat the Discoloration of a Pimple
When a pimple's inflammation has gone down or it has popped on its own, there is a chance that the pimple may leave a mark behind. These marks come in the form of dark spots and can look red or brown, not to be confused with actual acne scars. The former usually disappear in the space of three to six months. Dermatologist Sejal Shah, M.D., told Teen Vogue that "you can expedite the process with a diligent treatment of topical retinoids, vitamin C serums, sunscreen and over-the-counter brighteners." Acne scars, however, are permanent indentations that may require laser treatments and temporary dermal fillers.
How have you dealt with acne? Tell us in the comments below!