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Emergency Spot Treatments for Pimples

Updated on July 29, 2010

Maybe you have a job interview tomorrow.  Or a date.  Or a party or reunion to attend.  Whatever the event, the last thing you needed is that ugly pimple that has taken up residence on your chin.  But it’s already late, you have no blemish treatments at home, and stores are closed.  What can you do? 

It turns out that there is probably already an answer in your medicine cabinet.  If you have aspirin, toothpaste, or milk of magnesia, you have a time-tested spot treatment for acne.


1.  Aspirin

How to use it:   Crush an aspirin, preferably uncoated, with the back of a spoon.  Add enough water, a drop or two at a time, to make a creamy paste.  Wash and dry your face, and then put the aspirin paste on the pimple, avoiding the surrounding healthy skin.  Allow the paste to dry and stay on the blemish for 15 to 30 minutes.  Rinse the treatment off with lukewarm water.

How it works :  The salicylic acid contained in aspirin is used as an active ingredient in many acne products.  Salicylic acid cleans pores deeply and gently sloughs off dead, clogging flakes of skin.  This ingredient also has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory qualities.

Precautions :  Keep the aspirin paste away from the eyes and nostrils.  Don’t put this treatment on your skin if you’re allergic to aspirin taken by mouth.  Wash off the paste at the first sign of discomfort.  Stop using it if your skin becomes irritated.

2.  Toothpaste

How to use it:   Dab—but don’t rub—some toothpaste on the pimple only.  Avoid the surrounding skin.  Leave the toothpaste on for 15 minutes.  Then gently rinse it off with lukewarm water.  Avoid mint-flavored toothpaste; it can cause a burning feeling and soreness.  And don’t use whitening toothpastes because their hydrogen peroxide can be irritating.

How it works:   The baking soda contained in many toothpastes is an absorbent and calming ingredient.  Many toothpastes also contain antiseptics.  What is more, toothpaste may soak up excess oil, similar to a clay mask.  Due to its drying properties, toothpaste is reputed to work best on blemishes that have come to a head.

Precautions:   Before applying toothpaste to a pimple, do a 15-minute patch test on the inside of your forearm.  Toothpaste can be irritating, especially to those with sensitive skin.

3.  Milk of Magnesia

How to use it: Wash and dry the face.  Straight out of the bottle (undiluted), apply a thin coating of milk of magnesia on the pimple.  Let it dry.  As it does, you’ll feel a tightening sensation; this is normal.  Remove the treatment after 30 minutes with lukewarm water.

How it works:   Milk of magnesia has anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, and oil-absorbing properties. It contains, and is named after, the mineral magnesium, a necessary nutrient for many vital processes in the body.

Precautions: Rinse off if you experience any discomfort.

You may wonder if aspirin, toothpaste, and milk of magnesia actually work as spot treatments for acne.  Many people report that these preparations are even better than retail products.  With any skin treatment, of course, the effects will differ from person to person.  The response will vary due to different types of skin, different reasons for breakouts, and different types of acne.  But if you’re having a skin emergency, or if you’re simply trying to economize, relief for a sudden blemish may already be in your medicine cabinet.

Which of these spot treatments have you ever tried?

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    • profile image

      dipa 4 years ago

      did toothpaste really work

    • Bloget profile image

      Bloget 7 years ago from Minnesota

      How interesting! Thank you for sharing

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