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Getting rid of pimples fast

Getting rid of pimples fast

Stefano Mirabello NowPatientGreen tick
Medically reviewed by Stefano Mirabello, BPharm and written by Rajive Patel, BPharm - Updated on 4 Sep 2023
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Table of contents
OverviewWhat causes pimples?What makes pimples more likely?How to get rid of pimples fastCan toothpaste get rid of pimples?What is the best thing to put on pimples overnight?Sources

We’ve all been there. You’ve got a hot date, a job interview, or just a night out with the boys. Then it happens – you get a breakout of pimples or it’s that one stubborn bad boy that just won’t go. You need to get rid of your pimples fast. But can you?

Whether it’s the occasional prominent zit on the nose or an outbreak of adult acne, you can fight back. Here we explain some of the most effective ways to get rid of pimples fast.

What causes pimples?

You get spots when the follicles in your skin become blocked. The biggest culprits for blocked follicles include dead skin cells, sebum (that’s oil your skin naturally produces), and oily products you put on your face.

Blocked follicles form whiteheads and blackheads. If bacteria infect the blocked follicle and feed on what’s inside (nice hey?), the pimple can become inflamed and produce pus. This gives you pimples with white or yellow heads. If the bacterial infections spread and go deeper into your skin you can get more serious spots like cysts and nodules. Learn more about different types of pimples and what causes pimples in different places on your face.

What makes pimples more likely?

So that’s how pimples form, but what about what makes pimples more likely? The following can all bring on pimples:

  • Not cleaning your face well enough: excess dead skin cells and a build-up of sebum on your face can make pimples more likely
  • Using oily products on your face: these can block your follicles
  • Shaving: dragging a half-sharp razor over your face can irritate your skin and make pimples worse. Shaving products can also block your follicles
  • Stress: when you’re stressed you might experience hormonal changes that increase sebum production. This makes pimples more likely
  • Not sleeping enough: this can also cause hormonal changes that increase sebum production.
  • Eating a diet rich in sugar, dairy, and processed food: These foods have been shown to increase your insulin levels. Rising insulin can increase how much sebum your skin produces

How to get rid of pimples fast

Can you get rid of pimples overnight? That’s a tall order. Even with the best treatments pimples usually take a little longer to clear. But you can give yourself the best chance of getting rid of pimples fast by:

Adopting a daily skin care routine

The best way to get rid of pimples fast is to not get them in the first place. Cleaning your face as part of your daily routine can clear away the dead skin and sebum that blocks your follicles. Use a cleanser and a non-oil-based moisturizer. You can try other products like toners and astringents too. Learn more about skincare for acne.

Leading a healthy lifestyle

Another effective way to avoid getting pimples in the first place is to improve your lifestyle. The following changes can all help keep your skin clear:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Actively reducing your stress levels
  • Making sure you get enough sleep each night
  • Cutting back on junk food and processed food as well as dairy and high glycaemic foods like white bread and pasta

Using an over-the-counter acne treatment

You can buy a whole range of spot treatments at your local pharmacy or grocery store. The best ones contain:

  • Salicylic acid – this is a similar acid to the active ingredient found in aspirin. It can help clear your skin but also reduces the inflammation that accompanies pimples
  • Benzoyl peroxide – this can kill the bacteria that causes pimples and can also reduce inflammation
  • Retinols – these are an ingredient based on vitamin A that can speed up the replacement of skin cells, helping to remove dead skin and sebum as well as heal pimples

Using a prescription acne treatment

Prescription medications are amongst the most effective ways to clear pimples and are particularly suited to stubborn pimples and more severe forms of acne. Some of the best contain:

  • Retinoids – these are a stronger version of the retinols mentioned above. Retinoids encourage your skin cells to replenish faster. This helps to remove dead skin and oil, heal pimples and even lessen acne blemishes and scarsTretinoin (Retin A) is a retinoid
  • Antibiotics – can help kill the bacteria that makes pimples worse and more stubborn to clear

How do you get rid of pimples fast naturally?

Some people swear by natural remedies but there’s usually little scientific evidence to support them. But as natural remedies are often cheap and easy to buy, you can experiment to see if any work for you. Popular natural pimple treatments include:

  • Aloe vera
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Tea tree oil
  • Witch hazel

Can toothpaste get rid of pimples?

No. Despite what well-meaning people might tell you don’t put toothpaste on your pimples. Toothpaste doesn’t dry out your pimples or kill bacteria. If anything, it’s more likely to irritate your skin and make matters worse. Stick to proven pimple treatments.

What is the best thing to put on pimples overnight?

You can try applying prescription medications to your face that contain retinoids and antibiotics. Or opt for over-the-counter products that contain retinols, salicylic acid, or benzyl peroxide. You can also try natural remedies too, such as apple cider vinegar or tea tree oil. You should experiment to find what works best for you.


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NowPatient has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that all material is factually accurate, complete, and current. However, the knowledge and experience of a qualified healthcare professional should always be sought after instead of using the information in this page. Before taking any drug, you should always speak to your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider.

The information provided here about medications is subject to change and is not meant to include all uses, precautions, warnings, directions, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or negative effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a particular medication does not imply that the medication or medication combination is appropriate for all patients or for all possible purposes.

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