- Acne occurs when bacteria and debris are trapped in the pores of your skin.
- Treat acne quickly with over the counter treatments and home remedies.
- More severe acne can be addressed with prescription medication.
- Follow good habits to prevent existing pimples from becoming worse.
Acne is a skin condition in which pores are clogged with oil, bacteria, dirt and dead skin cells and become inflamed. You can get rid of acne fast by using natural remedies, over the counter products and prescription medication. A few lifestyle changes and good habits can also help eliminate acne for good.
Do’s and Don’ts to Heal Acne Fast
Certain habits can speed up recovery from an acne breakout, while others may prolong inflammation in your skin. Follow these do’s and don’ts to improve your acne without accidentally making it worse.
Don’t pick at your skin
To speed up the healing process, avoid touching your skin altogether. Your fingers can introduce additional oil, dirt and bacteria to your face that will only exacerbate acne.
Don’t pop or squeeze your acne
The act of popping a pimple may force bacteria down into the clogged pore and cause a deeper infection.
If you need to perform an extraction, use a blackhead extraction tool, not your fingers, and only apply gentle pressure. If the comedo (the clogged pore) does not come free, leave it alone.
Don’t believe everything you read
A quick Internet search might lead you to believe that any household item from toothpaste to raw potatoes can cure your acne. Be wary of unsupported claims and stick to proven acne treatments, whether commercial products or time-tested natural remedies, for best results.
Do establish an anti-acne skin care routine
Your first line of defense against acne should be keeping your face clean with a simple skin care routine.
Wash your face in the mornings, evenings and after exercising with a mild cleanser. If you have oily skin, apply a drying lotion to soak up excess sebum. Follow up with a noncomedogenic (not pore-blocking), oil-free moisturizer to maintain skin hydration.
Once or twice a week, exfoliate your face with a product containing an alpha-hydroxy acid such as glycolic acid. Exfoliating sloughs off the dead skin cells that contribute to acne formation.
Do pay attention to triggers
Keep track of what you eat and how you feel before a breakout to identify possible triggers for your acne. If you can eliminate triggers from your diet, your acne may heal faster.
Fastest Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Acne
Milder forms of acne can often be treated with all-natural remedies rather than commercial products. The following remedies treat acne by reducing inflammation, killing acne-causing bacteria and/or reducing sebum production.
Tea tree oil spot treatment
To use tea tree oil, dampen a cotton swab with water and apply a few drops of the essential oil to it. Pass the swab over areas of acne-prone skin and active blemishes once or twice a day.
Topical green tea
Green tea contains polyphenols, antioxidant compounds that may reduce sebum production in the skin. One polyphenol, epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG, has also been proven to inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria and reduce acne inflammation.
Brew green tea and keep it in a spray bottle to occasionally mist your face. Or, apply the tea directly to acne-prone areas with a cotton pad once or twice a day.
Aspirin spot treatment
The active ingredient in aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid, an anti-inflammatory agent closely related to salicylic acid (SA). It is thought that acetylsalicylic acid may have the same drying and anti-inflammatory effects as SA. However, no studies have been carried out yet to determine whether this is the case.
To treat your acne with aspirin, crush one or two aspirin tablets into a fine powder and combine with a little warm water to form a paste. Apply to active acne lesions and leave on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing.
Best Over the Counter Spot Treatments for Pimples
Over the counter (OTC) products generally work more quickly and effectively than natural remedies. They are specifically formulated to fight acne and have often been lab-tested for the purpose.
Niacinamide is a type of vitamin B3. Applied topically, it reduces inflammation and helps regulate oil production in your skin. It also improves skin barrier function for an overall smoother appearance to your skin, minimizing the enlargened pores that often occur with chronic acne.
Apply niacinamide cream to clean skin as part of your evening skin care routine. As with most skin care products, it takes several weeks of consistent niacinamide use to see improvements.
Salicylic acid medication
Salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid, is one of the most common acne treatments. It is oil-soluble, meaning it can easily penetrate pores clogged with oil and dead skin cells to break up comedones. Salicylic acid is also an exfoliant and anti-inflammatory.
Salicylic acid is an ingredient in many skin care products including gels, serums, cleansers, lotions and moisturizers. Because it helps dry up excess oil, it works well for oily skin types and can improve skin in a matter of weeks. However, because it is so drying, you should exercise caution when applying salicylic acid to prevent your skin from becoming dehydrated.
As benzoyl peroxide has been known to cause redness and irritation, it is recommended to start with a product containing a low concentration to determine your skin’s tolerance.
Hydrocortisone cream, while not an official acne medication, can reduce inflammation and redness caused by blemishes. Because it does not kill bacteria or reduce sebum production, it should be used alongside other medications that target those acne causes.
As hydrocortisone primarily treats inflammation, it is most effective for inflamed types of acne such as whiteheads, nodules, papules, pustules and cysts. It does not have an effect on blackheads or small whiteheads.
Best Prescription Options for Getting Rid of Acne
If you experience chronic acne, over the counter products and at-home remedies may be insufficient to treat it. Medication prescribed by a doctor or dermatologist is more powerful and fast-acting than non-prescription options and can significantly improve even severe acne.
Cortisone injections are the fastest way to treat individual papules, nodules or cysts. A dermatologist injects a diluted corticosteroid, a type of steroid hormone, directly into the affected area. The blemish starts to shrink within a few hours and disappears after about 24 hours.
A cortisone injection should only be used as an emergency solution for very painful, large lesions. Injecting the skin too frequently with cortisone can lead to pitted acne scars at the injection site.
Adapalene is a type of retinoid, a derivative of vitamin A. It is available in prescription strength as a gel, cream or lotion.
Adapalene reduces inflammation in the skin and prevents the formation of microcomedones, the first stage in a pimple’s development. Although it works slowly, requiring up to three months to see results, it is less likely to cause unwanted side effects than stronger retinoids.
To get rid of a pimple overnight, use a product containing an active ingredient such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide in a high concentration. Apply it directly to the blemish to prevent irritating the rest of your face.
Another effective overnight treatment for pimples is a hydrocolloid bandage or acne sticker. These bandages pull fluid from inside a clogged pore and reduce inflammation over the course of only a few hours.
Acne is a common skin condition that affects almost everyone at some point in their life. You can get rid of acne fast by using over the counter products and home remedies, with OTC products usually providing faster results than DIY remedies.
Adapalene gel, niacinamide cream, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are a few of the best acne treatments available over the counter. For natural remedies, try tea tree oil, green tea or crushed aspirin.
If your blemishes do not respond to drugstore acne treatments, a dermatologist or doctor may prescribe you a stronger medication such as adapalene.
To get rid of pimples overnight, try a product containing a high concentration of acne-fighting active ingredients or a hydrocolloid bandage. For cystic acne that’s causing you a lot of pain, a cortisone injection can provide immediate relief for individual blemishes.
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