Zits look unpleasant, they feel just as bad, and they have the potential to ruin a perfectly good date, photograph, or glance in the mirror. But that stops with our simple two-step guide to zapping a zit in its tracks. For those times when you feel one coming on—you know, when it has just started to form, and you feel that panic-inducing realization coming on that things could get ugly—this is what you need to do. Keep scrolling to see how to prevent a zit from becoming a full-blown distraction on your face.
The powerful one-two punch for banishing a pimple involves cortisone followed by Visine. But before we cover that, the golden rule to remember—and consider ground zero—before steps one and two—is don't touch the darn thing. "Trying to pop it will just make it mad and harder to treat," says Dr. Mona Gohara, dermatologist and associate clinical professor at the Yale School of Medicine Department of Dermatology. The outcome you want is invisibility, and angering it will just make whatever is there more mad, and thus more visible.
Dr. Ron Moy, Beverly Hills dermatologist, past vice president of the Skin Cancer Foundation, and former president of the American Academy of Dermatology agrees. "The main goal for immediate treatment is to reduce inflammation," he says. And one way to try is with cortisone. Apply a tiny dab of cortisone on the area to try to make the inflammation go down. And lastly, add a little Visine (yes, the redness-reducing eye drops) to try to reduce any associated redness. The 60-second combination may kick a pimple to the curb fast.
Though an over-the-counter cortisone cream is potentially the fastest way to zap a zit at home, Moy notes that an immediate cortisone steroid injection by a dermatologist would be the quickest, most effective way to reduce inflammation, since it penetrates under the skin, if that's an option to you. He also says that home treatments to reduce inflammation need to be soothing and accelerate healing beyond the initial zit zapping. "A treatment like our Regeneration Serum has the best growth factors to accelerate healing of zits for a noninvasive treatment," he says.
In case you don't have any cortisone on hand or can't use it due to an allergy, there's an alternative option: You can also use heat to try to bring the zit to the surface, either through steam or hot water. This is likely a slower treatment than using cortisone, but a similar endgame.
Keep scrolling to shop all the products mentioned in this story, for stopping a pimple from forming!
Cortisone is a steroid drug. It helps to decrease inflammation and can even treat several skin conditions, including psoriasis and eczema.
If pesky breakouts are still an issue, then consult with your dermatologist to figure out a treatment that works best for you. Or, at the very least, try one of these natural remedies for acne.
Chalmers JR, Axon E, Harvey J, et al. Different strategies for using topical corticosteroids in people with eczema. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019;2019(6):CD013356. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD013356