We all know that feeling. You wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and are horrified by a new volcanic pimple. Whether it happens on a typical Monday or the day of a big event like your wedding or a job interview, the experience can be traumatizing. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to reduce the appearance of pimples fast and address the underlying cause of any breakouts. Find out how to get rid of acne fast with these at-home acne treatments from salicylic acid to green tea and tea tree oil.
How To Get Rid of Acne Fast
Salicylic acid is one of the most common treatments for acne. The acid works to regulate the body’s shedding of dead skin cells and prevents these particles from getting trapped in pores. This medication does not regulate the production of oil and does not have antibacterial properties. However, it does have an amazing ability to penetrate deep into the layers of skin to prevent breakouts and it boasts anti-inflammatory properties that reduce swelling and redness.
Be careful using too much of this chemical agent as it can cause skin drying. Using more doesn’t mean the pimple will go away faster. Follow the instructions from your dermatologist for the best results for your skin needs. If you have sensitive skin, it’s important to follow up with a moisturizer to prevent irritation.
Benzoyl peroxide is another popular acne product that helps to exfoliate skin on a chemical level, removing dirt and dead skin cells that trigger acne breakouts. It also offers antibacterial properties that help to fight off acne-causing bacteria. Be careful when using this product around dark clothing as it can cause stains. Other side effects include drying and skin irritation so make sure to use as directed and follow up with a moisturizing cream.
Glycolic acid is another powerful acid that works to exfoliate skin and clear breakouts. As an added benefit, glycolic acid may help to minimize the look of dark spots and acne scars when used consistently over time.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a great acne spot treatment thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and antibacterial agents. The oil contains compounds that work to fend off bacteria like P. acnes that can clog pores and cause acne breakouts (1). It also helps to decrease swelling and redness that can make pimples and zits unsightly.
A study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology found that a topical application of five percent tea tree oil gel was five times more effective than a placebo in treating acne (2). Additional research published in Herbal Medicine found that tea tree oil gels were just as effective as benzoyl peroxide — a prevalent acne medication (3).
For the best results, combine a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil like jojoba oil to a cotton swab or cotton ball. Dab directly on the pimple. You can also add the oil to your regular face wash to prevent breakouts in the first place. If you don’t like the scent of tea tree oil, you can also use other essential oils for acne like rosemary oil, orange oil, or basil oil (4). Follow up with an oil-free moisturizer to prevent side effects like dryness and itching.
Toothpaste contains active ingredients including alcohol and baking soda that work by drying out acne. Since this mixture can have drying effects, it’s important not to apply it to your entire face, but rather just to the affected pimples. Use sparingly avoid making acne symptoms like redness worse.
Start by cleansing your face with a gentle face wash. Apply a small dab of toothpaste directly to blemishes. Allow the toothpaste to dry — about 5 to 10 minutes — then rinse and apply a moisturizer.
Exfoliating can help to remove dead skin cells and excess oil trapped in skin and hair follicles that can cause pimples and blackheads. Exfoliate once or twice a week and follow up with a gentle moisturizer. Do not exfoliate every day as this can cause skin irritation and drying that may actually increase breakouts.
Cortisone injections won’t do anything to clear up acne breakouts or fight the bacteria that cause acne, but it is a miracle worker if you need to look better fast for an event or a special occasion. Cortisone injections work to reduce swelling and redness associated with pimples. The shots are safe for use at all ages and can be a lifesaver if you wake up with a large blemish on an important day. Just know that this remedy won’t address the root cause of your acne.
Green tea may help to improve the look of acne by reducing inflammation. This tea contains powerful antioxidants including catechins and polyphenols that work to decrease swelling and prevent the growth of bacteria that can clog pores (5). Apply a green tea bag directly to the affected skin or wash your face using a green tea face wash.
Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel can help to soothe symptoms of acne. It’s commonly used to treat sunburn and works in a similar way to treat inflammation and redness caused by acne. A study published in the Journal of Dermatology Treatment found that aloe vera gel combined with a retinoid, like tretinoin, was more effective than simply using a vitamin A sourced retinoid alone (6).
While astringents may help to shrink the appearance of pores, they can also cause drying that leads to inflammation when used on pimples. Irritated skin means redness and scaly skin — not a good look — and definitely not a good solution if you’re searching for how to get rid of acne fast. Only use a toner during acne breakouts if you have really oily skin and your body produces too much sebum.
Don’t Pick At Your Skin
If you’ve researched how to get rid of acne fast before, you know this rule. While it’s tempting to pop those ugly zits, doing so may do more harm than good. We know you’ve heard this a thousand times, but it’s sometimes more easily said than done. Again, absolutely do not pick at your face. It may offer a brief feeling of having accomplished something, but it’ll likely take even longer for the pimple to heal if you squeeze or pop it. Picking can also lead to acne scars and more severe problems that will need the attention of a dermatologist. Instead, use one of the home remedies on this list to reduce its appearance and clear up acne breakouts fast.
Ice The Pimple
An ice cube or ice pack can help to decrease swelling and redness, making the offending zit less noticeable. The ice can also help to decrease pain symptoms associated with large and angry breakouts. Wrap the ice pack in a thin cloth and apply directly to pimples for three to four minutes. Repeat as needed.
Aspirin is an over-the-counter pain medication that can help reduce painful breakouts while also decreasing the redness and swelling around zits. One of the ingredients in aspirin is salicylic acid — a potent acne-fighting medication. Take a few aspirin tablets and crush them using a large wooden spoon or pestle and mortar. Add a few drops of water or coconut oil and apply directly to the pimple.
Wash Your Face
Washing your face is an important part of any skincare routine and a key component of how to get rid of acne fast. Using a dermatology-approved cleanser can help to fend off acne-causing bacteria while improving the overall look and health of your skin. For severe acne, it’s a good idea to wash your face twice per day and particularly after strenuous exercise or working out. While most drugstore skincare products are suitable for most skin types, people with severe acne or sensitive skin should seek product advice from a dermatologist or use dermatology-approved brands like Avene, Neutrogena, and La Roche Posay.
Watch What You Eat
Some people with cystic acne may find that certain foods trigger outbreaks. Not all foods affect each individual the same way so it’s important to keep an eye on what you eat and identify any foods that may be contributing to your acne. Foods that may cause acne outbreaks include greasy food, dairy, and high-fat foods.
A Note on Makeup
Makeup, like concealer, can help to cover up acne breakouts. A light foundation can also help to even out skin tone and reduce the appearance of acne scars. Just make sure to choose your makeup wisely, especially if you have acne-prone skin. Look for makeup that is labeled as non-comedogenic, meaning it doesn’t have ingredients that will cause clogging. To help fight acne, you can also use foundation and face makeup that contains small amounts of salicylic acid.
Clear Skin Fast With These Easy DIY Remedies
If you’re looking for how to get rid of acne fast, you’ve come to the right place. With these home remedies, you’ll be well on your way to reducing the appearance of blemishes and treating the underlying cause that leads to breakouts. If you continue to struggle with treating your acne, talk to a dermatologist who can help you understand your skincare situation and prescribe appropriate treatments.