- Acne occurs when bacteria and debris become trapped in the pores of the skin
- Acne can be treated quickly with over-the-counter treatments and home remedies
- Severe acne can be addressed with prescription medication
- Establish good habits to prevent acne from worsening and to prevent future breakouts
Acne is a skin condition in which pores become clogged with oil, bacteria, dirt and dead skin cells, leading to inflammation. You can get rid of acne fast by using natural remedies, over-the- counter (OTC) products and prescription medication. Making a few lifestyle changes and forming good habits can also help reduce acne symptoms or eliminate acne altogether.
Do’s and Don’ts to Heal Acne Fast
Follow these do’s and don’ts to both speed up healing from acne breakouts, and to not prolong symptoms inadvertently.
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 pimples
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. Apply a warm washcloth to the affected area first to help loosen the clog. If you cannot remove the comedo (the clogged pore) with ease, 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 adhere 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 with a mild cleanser in the mornings, evenings and after exercising. If you have oily skin, apply a drying lotion to soak up excess sebum. Follow-up with a noncomedogenic (won’t block pores), 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
Some people find that chocolate, greasy foods and dairy products cause their acne to flare up. Similarly, high-stress levels are also associated with breakouts.
Keep track of what you eat and how you feel before a breakout to identify your possible triggers. If you can eliminate these food items from your diet and manage your stress, you may see improvements in your acne.
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 reducing sebum production.
Aspirin spot treatment
The active ingredient in aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) an anti-inflammatory agent closely related to salicylic acid. It is thought that ASA may have the same drying and anti-inflammatory effects as salicylic acid. 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.
Tea tree oil spot treatment
Tea tree oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. As an astringent, it helps dry out acne lesions and prevents new ones from forming.
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.
Best Over-the-Counter Spot Treatments for Pimples
OTC products generally work more quickly and effectively than natural remedies. This is because they are specifically formulated to fight acne and have been lab-tested for this purpose.
Benzoyl peroxide applied topically kills the bacteria that causes acne. It is available in commercial strengths of 2–10% and requires about 1 month for results to appear.
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.
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, minimizing the enlarged pores that often develop with chronic acne.
Apply this 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 using this acid to prevent your skin from becoming dehydrated.
Best Prescription Options for Getting Rid of Acne
If you experience chronic acne, OTC products and at-home remedies may not be adequate treatments. Medication prescribed by a doctor or dermatologist is more powerful and fast-acting than nonprescription options and can significantly improve even severe acne.
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.
Hydrocortisone cream, while not an acne medication, can be used to 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.
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.
To get rid of a pimple overnight, use a product containing an active ingredient such as salicylic acid or 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 home remedies or OTC products for faster results.
Niacinamide cream, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are a few of the best acne treatments available OTC. 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 or hydrocortisone cream.
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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