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How to Get Rid of a Pimple

Tips from Dermatologist Jeanine Downie


examining a pimple

Whatever you do, do not pick it or pop it.

Jose Luis Pelaez/Iconica/Getty Images

It's pretty much a given that all of us have experienced a pimple that reared its horrible head the night before, days before or a week before a special event. No matter if you're in your teens, 20's or sometimes even 40's and beyond, acne is a frustrating problem.

We got an email from a reader named Stephanie who asked the following question.

I deal with frequent breakouts on my face and sometimes back. Most times it's not a big deal, but I'd like to ask about those times where it is a big deal. If I feel a big pimple coming on a week before my big event, what I should do to help it go away as quickly as possible? What if the pimple starts coming on the day or two before the big event? And lastly, is there anything a dermatologist can do in-office for these pimple emergencies?

We took Stephanie's question to board certified Dermatologist, Dr. Jeanie Downie. Dr. Downie has been a regular guest on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Early Show, Doctor Oz and many other national TV shows, radio shows and newspaper publications. We're honored to get her expert opinion on dealing with that pimple before your special event.

A Week Before Your Event

Come in to see a board certified dermatologist for a quick cortisone injection. The cortisone is a specific anti-inflammatory and will shrink the pimple down much quicker. Whatever you do, do not pick it and do not pop it.

If you can’t get to a dermatologist, try to put a prescription retinoid on your pimple like Tazorac or Retin-A-Micro. If don’t have prescriptions available to you, try a great over the counter product like OXY 5 or OXY 10, and again don’t pick it, no matter what, don’t pick it.

You can put ice on pimple that helps occasionally, but toothpaste really burns the area around the skin, so I do not recommend that. You can also try chemical peels, which will help with pimples all over your face if you have a big breakout.

One to Two Days Before Your Event

If a pimple comes on the day or two before an event, I would still recommend to going to see a board certified dermatologist. The pimple will go down in a day, so you can still inject it.

Everything the same applies. You wouldn’t pick it, you wouldn’t pop it, and you should use a prescription if it’s available to you, if not use over the counter options. Don’t put anything on to dry it, it’s too much because it’s two days before the event and you’ll want to be able to cover the area with makeup. When you are covering it with makeup the day of the event, be sure to only use oil-free makeup.

In-Office Emergency Treatments

Whenever someone comes in with a pimple emergency there are a few options. We inject it, we do chemical peels, and we do acne surgeries. These will all help significantly.

More Acne Advice

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