We’ve all been there. It’s the night before a big interview or hot date and suddenly, out of nowhere, appears a giant ugly pimple on your face. After briefly considering, and then dismissing, the idea of adding a face mask to your carefully selected, drop-dead outfit, you frantically Google overnight cures for acne. Currently such a search will yield 3,370,000 results. Next week it may be closer to 4 million. Among them such diverse solutions as Windex, diaper cream and toothpaste.
Roy Grekin, director of the Dermatologic Surgery and Laser Center at the University of California, San Francisco, says he has seen it all. From patients who tried burning a pimple off with matches, to those frying their skin with a sunlamp. “None of those things will help” and all of them will hurt, Dr. Grekin says. And no matter how tempting, you MUST resist the urge to pop it because it will scab and take longer to heal.
The best thing to do, according to Grekin, is to use a potent corticosteroid cream. The strongest one is clobetasol, and requires a prescription. A couple of dabs of clobetasol will get rid of almost all the redness and inflammation, within 12 hours.
Too good to be true? As with most “miracle cures” there is a downside. Long-term use can thin the skin, but fortunately it take weeks to happen.
If you can’t get hold of clobetasol, look for the highest dosage of hydrocortisone cream you can find. Also pick up some benzoyl peroxide, and then alternate them, one dab at a time. Covering it with a Band-Aid, though not pretty, will increase the potency of the creams.
What about toothpaste? It’s not as good as benzoyl peroxide but it can help shrink and dry pimples. And diaper cream? As most brands have hydrocortisone in them, it should work. As for Windex, Dr. Grekin doesn’t recommend it. Not only could it dry your skin out, it will also be absorbed into the bloodstream!
And a final word of warning. Whatever you do, don’t put Neosporin, on a pimple, says Dr. Grekin. In 2010, neomycin, one of its main ingredients, won the American Contact Dermatitis Society‘s dubious award for contact allergen of the year. “There are so many people who are allergic to it that you could have a much worse reaction to it than just the pimple.”
So now you know!