It is not possible to physically remove pimples or heal them overnight. However, home care can reduce swelling and pain, making pimples less noticeable.
It is not possible to remove pimples overnight. Treatments for pimples and acne take time to work. Individual pimples may take a few days or a few weeks to completely heal.
The amount of time it takes for a blemish to go away can depend on how large or severe it is, and how a person treats it. For example, picking or popping the pimple may increase healing times.
Careful treatment at home can reduce swelling and pain.
To treat a new pimple at home, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommend:
- Gently washing the skin and patting dry with a clean towel.
- Wrapping ice cubes in a cloth and applying to the pimple for 5–10 minutes.
- Taking a break for 10 minutes, and then applying ice again for another 5–10 minutes.
- Applying a spot treatment that contains at least 2% benzoyl peroxide.
Following these steps before sleep may mean pimples look better by the morning.
Once a whitehead forms, a person can also apply a hot compress. To do this:
- Soak a clean washcloth in hot water.
- Apply to the pimple for 10–15 minutes.
- Repeat this 3–4 times daily.
For persistent acne, a person may wish to consider treatment from a doctor or dermatologist. There are numerous treatments people can try, including:
- salicylic acid
- benzoyl peroxide
- topical antibiotics
Topical treatments can reduce inflammation, unblock pores, and reduce the production of sebum. They can also inhibit the growth of bacteria. However, they take time to work.
According to the AAD, it can take up to 4 months before people see an improvement, especially in severe cases. They recommend sticking with new acne products for at least 6–8 weeks before moving onto something else.
If a person’s acne proves resistant to topical treatment, a doctor may prescribe oral treatment instead. Oral retinoids, antibiotics, or hormonal medications such as the birth control pill may help, depending on the cause of the acne.
Some people may wish to try alternatives to medical treatment.
There are many complementary therapies, supplements, and topical treatments people use for acne. However, not all of them are supported by evidence.
Some of the alternative remedies that may be effective in reducing acne include:
According to a 2016 review, applying green tea topically may decrease the average amount of pimples and pustules in people with mild-to-moderate acne. One study found that green tea can significantly reduce inflammatory and non-inflammatory pimples over an 8-week period.
Green tea is an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, and an antimicrobial, so may work against acne in several ways. People may apply fresh green tea to the skin, use skincare products containing green tea, or drink green tea.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is a popular home remedy for pimples. According to the 2016 review, several studies show this essential oil is antimicrobial, and that it can reduce the number of blemishes in people with mild-to-moderate acne.
Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil at a safe concentration before applying to the skin.
Copaiba oil-resin is a traditional antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. There is some evidence that copaiba oil topical gel is effective against mild acne.
In one double-blind study, participants used a copaiba gel for 21 days. The researchers found that the gel stopped new pimples from forming, and helped to heal existing pimples. The gel also reduced inflammation.
Clays that are rich in minerals, such as kaolin, are often present in skin care products for acne. Studies on specific mineral clays and muds suggest that they may have antibacterial properties.
For example, laboratory studies indicate Dead Sea black mud can inhibit the growth of Propionibacterium acnes, a bacterium that can cause acne. However, scientists need to carry out more research to verify that minerals can treat acne in humans.
It is a popular myth that toothpaste helps to treat acne. One of the reasons for this is that toothpaste used to contain triclosan, which some studies claim prevents excessive sebum production.
However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of triclosan in products that people use with water before rinsing off, such as toothpaste. As a result, toothpastes no longer contain ingredients that could work to reduce acne.
The AAD do not recommend using toothpaste on pimples. They also advise against:
- Scrubbing: It is not possible to scrub acne away, and harsh scrubbing can make acne worse. Instead, dermatologists recommend gently washing the face.
- Tanning: Tanning does not reduce acne. Tanning also damages the skin, increasing the risk of people developing melanoma and other skin cancers.
- Popping: Popping pimples can make acne more noticeable, as it encourages irritation and inflammation. Popping acne can also lead to scarring or infection.
While acne remedies may help with existing pimples, it is also important to take steps to prevent new breakouts. The following guidelines from the AAD can help a person get started:
- Keep the skin clean: Cleanse the face twice per day with lukewarm water and a gentle, non-abrasive cleansing product. It is also a good idea to cleanse after sweating or wearing makeup.
- Use suitable skin products: After cleansing, use skin care and makeup products that are non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic. This means they will not clog pores or cause acne. A light, alcohol-free moisturizer and mineral-based SPF can keep skin hydrated and protected from UV damage.
- Maintain personal hygiene: Avoid touching the face, and wash things that come into contact with it — such as bed linens — at least once a week. Sheets and pillowcases can accumulate dead skin cells and bacteria, which can clog pores. People should also wash items like makeup brushes, face cloths, and face masks regularly.
Acne can have a variety of causes, and what works for one person may not work for another. If the tips below do not help, or acne is persistent or severe, it is best to consult a doctor.
People cannot remove pimples overnight, but home care can lessen swelling and may improve the appearance of pimples. Keeping the area clean, using ice, and hot compresses can help.
For persistent or recurring pimples, people may wish to try acne treatments. Trying simple preventative measures may be enough to reduce breakouts. Others may wish to seek advice from a dermatologist.