Home Remedies for Pimples, Zits and Skin Blemishes
Explore these tried and true natural cures for pimples, zits, and skin blemishes. These have the weight of history and science behind them, and they aren't too hard on your budget, either.
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Embrace Home Remedies!
We've all had that big meeting, date, or party that the appearance of a pimple the night before or the morning of has spoiled. Instead of taking center stage at our big event, many of us hide behind napkins, our hair, or even worse, cancel our plans altogether. And skin blemishes are hardly new to the human experience; they've been frustrating and foiling plans for millennia. But why should a pimple have the final say on how we feel and what we do?
While drugstore options for overnight or long-term treatments abound, few seem to work as well as these simple home remedies and natural cures, some of which date back centuries and draw upon all-natural ingredients that most people keep in their cupboards. Raid your pantry for help, not your bank account!
Hot and Cold Compresses for Fast Relief
The quickest way to get rid of a pimple, depending on its stage, is a hot or cold compress. Pimples have two primary stages: non-surfacing and surfacing. A non-surfacing pimple has not broken the surface of the skin and may present as a red bump or simple blemish, usually with some itching. Now I'm about to get real with you: a surfacing pimple has broken the surface and has come to a pus-filled head. This is the stage at which most people "pop" their zits.
Use a Cold Compress If...
- your skin blemish is non-surfacing
- your skin blemish is NOT a whitehead or blackhead
- your skin blemish has no visible build-up of pus
- Wash your face and hands thoroughly.
- Find a (clean!) ice pack or make your own—ice wrapped in foil or tossed in a storage baggy works just as well.
- Apply the cold compress to the pimple or skin blemish for 10 minutes. If you find the cold difficult to withstand, feel free to put a couple sheets of paper towel or toilet paper between the compress and your blemish.
- Follow steps 1 through 3 every four (4) hours for one to two days, being sure to wash your face each time before applying the compress.
Use a Hot Compress If...
- your skin blemish is surfacing
- your skin blemish is a whitehead, blackhead, or standard pimple with a visible build-up of pus
- Wash your face and hands thoroughly.
- Soak in hot water a (clean!) washcloth and wring it out. Alternatively, you may use a cotton ball, cotton pad, paper towel, or any strip of (clean!) cotton cloth.
- Apply the hot washcloth (or alternative) to your zit.
- When the hot washcloth begins to cool, soak it once again and reapply.
- Repeat steps 2 through 4 for the next 30 to 60 minutes.
- Gently pat skin dry with a (clean!) towel or washcloth. You may wish to wash your hands again at this point.
- Pop your pimple. At this point, it will have softened and drawn to a complete head. DO NOT PRESS DOWN, which will only spread bacteria deeper into your skin. Instead, press from underneath and force the pus outward.
- Wash your face and hands thoroughly and gently pat your face dry.
It's the sodium bicarbonate in baking soda that makes it so effective for getting rid of pimples and preventing breakouts in the long-term. Do NOT confuse baking soda for baking powder, however—the two substances are very different.
A key step in this process is the apple cider rinse, which restores your face to its proper pH following the application of baking soda. Please do not neglect this step to save time as your skin will pay the price.
- Wash face and hands thoroughly.
- In a large bowl, mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar with 4 to 6 cups of warm water. Set aside.
- Take 2 TBS of baking soda and mix in water until a creamy paste forms.
- Gently spread the paste over your face, being careful to avoid contact with your eyes.
- Rinse your face in the apple cider vinegar solution. Pat dry.
- Now rinse your face with clean water. Pat dry.
- Repeat once a day, or once every other day.
What to expect...
You want to be as gentle as possible when applying the baking soda, since it tends to be abrasive with a basic pH. Consequently, you can expect to see the following after use of this method:
- slight redness or irritation
- some sensitivity, especially to sunlight
To ameliorate these side effects, be sure to moisturize your skin thoroughly and apply an oil-free sunscreen following each baking soda treatment.
Rose oil (also called "rose hip oil" and "rose hip seed oil") is one of the oldest and best kept secrets for skincare. It is naturally antiseptic, which makes it ideal for combating pimples, skin blemishes, and even acne in the long-term. In addition, rose oil has high concentrations of Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as linoleic acid (also called "omega-6). It does wonders for reducing redness and scar tissue, not to mention wrinkles and other signs of aging.
- Wash face and hands thoroughly.
- Pour a few drops of rose oil into your palm.
- Dot the oil on your pimples and blemishes, then gently rub the oil into your skin.
- Repeat once a day.
Gentle Oil Cleanse
Did you know that oil dissolves oil, and that the right oils are antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and even antibacterial? Well, it's true! And the gentle oil cleanse method is one of best methods for cleansing and reconditioning skin prone to breakouts and acne. An oil cleanse helps reduce swelling, cleans the skin and pores thoroughly, and can even reduce swelling and scarring. The catch? The gentle oil cleanse method is more about long-term than immediate results, and it requires diligence.
- Mix together 1 part olive oil to 2 parts castor oil. If this mixture proves a little too drying, try a 1:1 ratio. Add 1 to 5 drops of tea tree oil and/or rosemary oil, according to preference.
- Wash and dry hands thoroughly.
- Put some of the oil mixture on your hands and begin massaging it into your face very gently for a minute or two. It feels great, so really take the time to savor it.
- Wet a washcloth with warm water (not too hot!).
- Lay the washcloth over your face and wait for it to cool—just a few minutes.
- Rinse the washcloth and gently swipe away any excess oil on your face.
- Repeat once a day for at least two weeks. Consistency is key! You can use this method in the long term, and also reduce the frequency to once every other day according to your preference.
Supplements for Skin Health
Sometimes, we can fight skin blemishes, pimples, and zits internally by taking supplements to support our skin.† Each of the supplements below has been shown to improve the overall health and appearance of the skin, as well as support healing.‡ What's more, these supplements are readily available for very little cost over the counter.
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C (topical, too!)
- Vitamin K
- Fish Oil (mercury-free!)
- Vitamin B7
† Before beginning any vitamin or mineral regiment, be sure to consult with a doctor to make sure it will not have any adverse effects when combined with current medication or conditions.
‡ Source: "Nutrients for Health Skin: Inside and Out," WebMD. 4 February 2012. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/skin-nutrition.
When to See a Doctor
Although home remedies for pimples and skin blemishes are effective, and natural cures are typically less expensive than formal medical care, there are cases in which a person should seek professional medical attention for skin blemishes.
- You have never been diagnosed with acne before, but you have persistent breakouts all over your face, neck, back, and other areas. Some conditions (like rosacea) can resemble acne but stem from completely different causes.
- Your skin blemishes are nodules or cystic lesions. These are the deepest types of skin blemishes that can lead to permanent scarring without proper attention. In addition, they are often very painful and red.
- You develop any sort of fever or general illness in conjunction with a severe breakout of skin blemishes, pimples, or zits. You may not be suffering from acne at all, but from a more severe illness or rash that requires immediate medical attention.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.