You wake up the morning of a great work presentation to find, surprise! – An angry red zit looking at you in the mirror.
Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse products or services other than Cleveland Clinic. Politics
If you find yourself in this situation often, you will want to make an appointment to see a dermatologist, who can develop a maintenance plan to help keep your skin clean.
But for an occasional outbreak, there is an effective way to tame it at home.
The best way to make a grain disappear quickly is to apply a small amount of benzoyl peroxide, which you can buy at a pharmacy in the form of cream, gel or patch, says Shilpi Khetarpal, MD. It works by killing bacteria that clog pores and cause inflammation. You can buy it in concentrations ranging from 2.5% to 10%.
"It is economical, has been around for many years and is very effective," says Dr. Khetarpal.
But there is a caveat: if you keep using it again and again in the same place, it can dry out or irritate your skin. So, if your skin is sensitive, choose a product with a lower concentration of benzoyl peroxide.
What NOT to do to get rid of a grain
You can watch pimple popping videos on the Internet to your liking, but Dr. Khetarpal recommends not trying it in real life.
"Any manipulation of a grain can cause more inflammation, which can increase the risk of scarring," he explains. "And your hands are dirty, so you're going to introduce more bacteria and potentially make them worse."
Your best option is to treat the grain with benzoyl peroxide and then leave it alone.
"Wearing makeup and covering it is not a problem, but don't pinch or squeeze it," suggests Dr. Khetarpal. "It will resolve itself."
In case of trouble, will these home remedies work?
A search on the Internet yields many quick solutions for pimples. Here is Dr. Khetarpal's version of some of the most common.
Toothpaste. Many toothpastes contain ingredients such as alcohol or baking soda that can help dry a grain. But, toothpaste also contains other ingredients that are not intended to be applied directly to the face. He warns that using toothpaste to treat a pimple could irritate the skin.
Tea tree oil Here is good news: studies have shown that a small amount of tea tree oil can fight acne. But, Dr. Khetarpal warns that a small percentage of people are allergic to it. "If it works for you, great, but if you put it on your skin and discover that you are allergic to it, it will create another problem," he says.
Aspirin. Some people swear by crushing an aspirin, putting a few drops of water and applying that mixture on their pimple. The active ingredient in aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid, is similar to salicylic acid, an anti-inflammatory ingredient common in many skin care products. But according to the acne treatment guidelines published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, there is limited clinical evidence that salicylic acid is effective in treating acne. "Many dermatologists discover that it simply dries the skin without giving much benefit," says Dr. Khetarpal.
Ice or heat. If a pimple is red and swollen, ice can help calm the inflammation temporarily, but the effect will disappear quickly, she says. Similarly, holding a warm wash cloth in the area may temporarily soothe irritated skin, but it will do nothing for the pimple itself. "Those are only going to temporarily relieve the discomfort, but the medication will be more effective in getting rid of the pimple," she says.
So, while there are several things in your medicine cabinet that could In case of trouble, it might be worth investing in a product that contains benzoyl peroxide to have on hand for skin care emergencies.