How to Get Rid of a Pimple in 24 Hours: Fast Fixes for Clear Skin

Written by Emily Wood, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on May 9, 2024 No Comments

woman acne

Imagine waking up on the day of a big event, whether it is a job interview, a first date, or a special occasion, only to find an unwelcome visitor on your face: a big, red pimple. It is a frustrating situation that many of us have experienced at some point in our lives. The temptation to pop it may be strong, but that quick fix can lead to a host of other issues, including inflammation, scarring, and even infection. So, what can you do when you need to get rid of a pimple fast without making matters worse?

Why You Shouldn’t Pop a Pimple

Before we talk about solutions, it is crucial to understand why popping a pimple is not a recommended course of action. Popping a pimple can introduce bacteria into the surrounding skin, leading to inflammation and potentially causing more acne breakouts. Additionally, squeezing a pimple can rupture the follicle wall, increasing the risk of scarring. It’s a temporary solution that often results in long-term consequences.

Avoid Using Toothpaste

You may have heard the old wives’ tale about using toothpaste to dry out a pimple overnight. However, most toothpaste contains ingredients like menthol and sodium lauryl sulfate, which can irritate the skin and exacerbate the problem. Instead of reaching for the toothpaste tube, consider safer alternatives.

Best Option: Cortisone Shot

If you have access to a dermatologist, one of the quickest and most effective ways to deal with a sudden pimple is to get a cortisone shot. Cortisone injections contain a steroid that reduces inflammation and speeds up the healing process. While this option may not be feasible for everyone, it’s worth considering if you have a particularly stubborn pimple.

Other Options

If a cortisone shot is not an option, there are several at-home remedies you can try to quickly shrink a pimple:

  • Apply Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and swelling. Simply wrap an ice cube in a clean cloth and hold it against the pimple for a few minutes.
  • Spot Treatment: Over-the-counter spot treatments containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid can help dry out pimples. Alternatively, you can make a paste from crushed aspirin and water, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Hydrocortisone Cream: Hydrocortisone cream can help reduce redness and inflammation associated with pimples. Apply a small amount to the affected area and gently massage it in.
  • Overnight Mask: Using an overnight mask containing acne-fighting ingredients like sulfur, tea tree oil, or clay can help reduce the size and redness of pimples while you sleep. These ingredients work to unclog pores and absorb excess oil, leaving your skin looking clearer by morning.

What If the Pimple Doesn’t Go Away?

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, there’s no way to make a pimple go away within 24 hours. In such cases, there are two good options:

  • Pimple Patch: Pimple patches are adhesive stickers that you can apply directly to the pimple. Not only do they conceal the blemish, but they also contain acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid or hydrocolloid, which help to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  • Camouflage with Makeup: If you need a quick fix for a visible pimple, lightweight mineral makeup can provide coverage without exacerbating the problem. Opt for a non-comedogenic formula that will not clog pores, and use a light hand to avoid drawing attention to the blemish.

Tips and Techniques

In addition to the above remedies, there are a few tips and techniques you can employ to minimize the appearance of pimples and prevent future breakouts:

  • Keep your hands off your face to avoid transferring bacteria to your skin.
  • Cleanse your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser to remove dirt, oil, and makeup.
  • Use oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizers and makeup products to avoid clogging pores.
  • Avoid touching or picking at pimples, as this can worsen inflammation and prolong healing time.
  • Consider incorporating products containing ingredients like retinol or niacinamide into your skincare routine to prevent future breakouts.

Dealing with a sudden pimple can be frustrating, but popping it or using toothpaste as a quick fix can do more harm than good. Instead, opt for safer alternatives like cortisone shots, ice, spot treatments, and overnight masks to quickly shrink pimples and promote healing. If all else fails, pimple patches and lightweight mineral makeup can provide temporary relief while you wait for the blemish to disappear. By following these tips and techniques, you can effectively manage pimples and maintain clear, healthy-looking skin.

Emily Wood, MD

Emily Wood, MD is a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained cosmetic dermatologic surgeon specializing in the practice of both cosmetic and medical dermatology. Dr. Wood is an expert in the use of lasers to improve a variety of medical and cosmetic conditions including acne, rosacea, scars, acne scars, birthmarks and wrinkles. She specializes in skin rejuvenation therapies, including neuromodulators (such as Botox and Dysport), fillers, liposuction, sclerotherapy, skin tightening, treatment of cellulite and rejuvenation of the aging chest, neck and hands.

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