What to do — and what not to do — to get rid of a pimple
- Breakouts can bring out the worst in many people - but that doesn't mean you should use ineffective or damaging products.
- Here, a dermatologist discusses the things you should never use to treat a pimple.
- Products to avoid include toothpaste and harsh facial scrubs.
A particularly bad breakout can make even the best of us get a little desperate.
So desperate, in fact, that it may even make you think that trying out that DIY mask made of toothpaste and cinnamon might just be the key to achieving clear skin.
But it doesn't have to be that way. There are some things you should put on your face to tackle acne and some things you definitely should not - and, unsurprisingly, toothpaste is one of the things to avoid.
INSIDER talked to Dr Debra Jaliman, a New York City-based dermatologist, to find out the things you should never, ever use to treat a pimple.
Even though toothpaste might feel like it's working, it's best to stay away from it
Lots of people use toothpaste as a replacement for spot cream in a pinch. There's a pretty good reason for this - if you apply toothpaste to a pimple, it can give you a tingling sensation that makes it feel as though it's drying out the zit. But, more often than not, this tingling feeling is due to irritants like fluoride in the toothpaste, which, while effective for preventing cavities, can worsen acne.
"Some people dab toothpaste on a zit because it can help dry it out," Jaliman told INSIDER. "I would tell them to stay away from toothpaste because it normally has a lot of other irritating ingredients in it."
You may also want to avoid over-washing your face
While it's tempting to assume that a dirty face is the root cause of acne - and, therefore, that washing it several times a day will reduce breakouts - Jaliman says too much cleansing can cause more pimples.
"Over-cleansing can dry your skin and aggravate acne-prone skin," Jaliman told INSIDER.
Washing your face is important for clear skin, especially if you wear makeup. But in most cases, you don't need to wash it any more than once or twice a day.
While you're reducing your face washes, you may also want to skip facial scrubs
Exfoliation can be helpful for acne-prone skin because it helps slough off dead skin cells and makes the skin look smoother, but using a scrub in addition to acne products could irritate the skin.
"Many topical medications that people use for acne can dry out your skin and using an additional exfoliant such as a scrub will dry out your skin even more," Jaliman told INSIDER.
According to Byrdie Beauty, dehydrated skin often produces more sebum, which, in turn, can cause breakouts. So, if you're using a topical acne treatment (which may already have exfoliating properties, especially if it contains salicylic acid), give the scrub a rest.
The first thing to try, according to Jaliman, tried-and-true acne products like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide actually work
"Use a gentle exfoliating scrub with ingredients such as salicylic acid to remove extra dirt and oils from your skin," Jaliman told INSIDER. "This helps to reduce the amount of dead skin that clogs pores."
If you feel like you've exhausted your patience with those methods, Jaliman recommends trying retinoids like adapalene gel, anything with glycolic acid (which can unclog pores), or, for a more natural approach, products with tea tree oil.
"There is some evidence to suggest it might help in treating acne by killing extra bacteria," Jaliman told INSIDER. (Just make sure that it's a product that contains tea tree oil, not the oil straight-up, which can give the skin a rash if it isn't diluted properly.)
If all else fails, you may want to visit a dermatologist. While results won't be immediate, they'll be able to prescribe you a topical or oral treatment that will save you from putting toothpaste on your face ever again.
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