Insiders' Guide How to Zap a Blemish Fast
An Interview With Diane S. Berson
Berson is a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and a board member of the American Acne and Rosacea Society.
By Brooke Le Poer Trench
Many women wish their acne had ended with puberty, but unfortunately, we all have to deal with occasional breakouts well into adulthood. If you suffer from regular eruptions, your dermatologist should be able to prescribe medication that will treat the underlying cause. For the odd spot, however, there are easy ways to clear things up.
· Be strong. When you feel a pimple forming, resist the urge to squeeze. All you're doing is traumatizing the area and causing an inflammatory reaction that will result in further swelling, a longer healing time, and most likely a scar. (I know it's tempting to take care of a whitehead yourself, but those explode inward as well as out, which can worsen the infection.)
· Focus your efforts. If the pimple feels huge, gently press an ice cube on the spot for a few minutes to reduce inflammation. Use a salicylic acid cleanser, which unclogs the pores; then apply a spot treatment containing benzoyl peroxide, which kills bacteria and dries out the area. (The Neutrogena and Bioré acne-treatment lines both make products with these ingredients that are excellent.) After a few minutes, dot on some oil-free concealer. It's fine to use your finger, though a brush might give you better coverage. Don't worry—makeup won't make things worse, and not even a dermatologist would expect you to walk around with blotches on your face.
· Make an appointment. If you have an important event and desperately need that pimple to disappear, a dermatologist can inject it with cortisone, which will shrink a blemish within 24 hours. I wouldn't get a facial if you need to look your best right afterward; they can inflame skin.
· Fade away. If the pimple leaves a pink mark, apply cortisone cream a few times a day for no more than a week to fade the spot, or see your dermatologist; she can prescribe something that will lighten the mark more quickly. And be vigilant about wearing sunscreen—any kind of skin discoloration will get even darker if you go out in the sun unprotected.