Question: What is the best spot treatment for a pimple?


Acne spot treatment

This question is asked a lot and the reason why it’s always asked is because no one really knows the answer. Everyone’s skin is different and an acne spot treatment that works for one person may or may not work for another. It really depends on your skin and how it responds to what you do to it.


In general, the best way to spot treat a pimple is to:

  1. Use heat. Apply a warm compress on the pimple several times a day. This helps emulsify the sebum beneath your skin and reduces swelling, bringing the pimple to a head faster. Alternatively, you can use a salt water compress. This also helps bring a pimple to a head faster, but it may dry out your skin too much. A cold or ice compress can ease inflammation and pain from a big zit. However, in my experience, a warm compress is usually more helpful than a cold one.

  2. Spot treat with an acne product. Apply a treatment product (such as retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, etc.) several times a day to dry up the pimple and/or exfoliate the surface of your skin to help push the plug out faster. Be careful when you are doing this though! Often, applying a treatment product will dry out the surface of the pimple and cause your skin to peel off and be red and raw, but do nothing to the actual pimple inside your skin. Instead of shrinking the pimple, you end up causing the top of the pimple to flake and peel off. To help with the actual pimple, use the above suggested warm compress and don't go too crazy with topical spot treatments......fuller's earth clay

    Note: A lot of times, people suggest toothpaste or lemon juice as an at-home acne treatment. However, don't put toothpaste or lemon juice on your pimples. They may help for some people, but more often than not, they will only irritate your skin and make the pimple redder.

  3. Cover it up. Sometimes covering up the pimple after you’ve applied a spot treatment can make the spot treatment more effective. I like to put a small band-aid or piece of DuoDerm synthetic skin dressing over any pimples to speed up their healing. It also helps to cover up zits because it reduces the temptation to pop the pimples, which only makes the pimple worse. Skin also heals best in a moist wound environment, which is created when your skin is covered.

  4. Leave it alone. Ultimately, the best thing you can do to spot treat acne is to just let a pimple run its course. A lot of spot treatments that try to make a pimple go away faster end up causing extra irritation or end up making the pimple linger around even longer. The more you mess with a pimple, the worse it usually gets, so try to keep your hands away from your face at all times.

Consult the acne treatments section for more information about acne treatment options.

Last updated: September 17, 2012

Next »

FAQ: How do I get rid of a cyst?

Back « Skin FAQ

Related articles: