- There are a variety of products that can be used for spot treating pimples.
- Some products are more effective than others.
- If your acne does not clear up after a few months, it might be time to see a board-certified dermatologist.
If you’re prone to acne or find an angry pimple or two staring back at you more often than you would like, it can be handy to know spot treatments that can help you deal with blemishes. But with so many products on the market, it can be tough to decide which ones to try.
INSIDER spoke to experts about acne spot treatments that actually work and here’s what they had to say.
Benzoyl peroxide can be effective
Dr. David Lortscher, board-certified dermatologist and CEO of Curology, told INSIDER that benzoyl peroxide has a mild anti-inflammatory effect and helps fight acne by killing bacteria and unclogging pores.
But, a higher percentage doesn’t necessarily mean the product will be more effective.
“Benzoyl peroxide products range in concentration from 2.5% to 10%; however, higher percentages (5-10%) may be more likely to cause skin irritation and are not proven to be more effective than lower strength products,” he explained.
He also warned that some people are allergic to benzoyl peroxide. To test if you’re allergic, Lortscher said to apply it to the inner aspect of your elbow for two to three days. If you don’t experience a reaction, it’s unlikely that you’re allergic.
Salicylic acid is found in many skin-care products
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) typically used in skin products. “BHAs encourage exfoliation, thus helping to prevent and treat blocked pores,” explained Lortscher.
“Salicylic acid is oil soluble, meaning it can penetrate and dislodge the gunk (sebum) in your pores so that it’s no longer trapped inside the pores,” he added. It can help you to prevent future acne breakouts.
He also said it’s important to be diligent with sun safety when applying BHAs to your skin, as these can cause the skin to lose some of its physical protection from UV rays.
Calamine can relieve itching symptoms
Lortscher said calamine, a mixture of zinc and ferrous oxide, acts as a drying agent and can relieve symptoms of itching. This treatment can help if you’re experiencing any itching that is causing irritation to the area.
Calamine can be particularly useful if you’re tempted to scratch or pick at your pimples.
Apple cider vinegar has exfoliant properties
Apple cider vinegar has gentle exfoliating properties, co-host of the Emmy Award-winning daytime show The Doctors, Dr. Sonia Batra, MD told INSIDER. She suggested applying a mixture of one part vinegar to three parts water to a cotton ball and then dabbing it on the area you wish to treat.
Tea tree oil is a natural anti-bacterial agent
Batra also suggests using tea tree oil as a spot treatment since it acts as a natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory agent.
She said you can mix one part tea tree oil and nine parts water and apply to a pimple using a cotton swab, twice a day as needed.
But, spot treatments aren’t always the answer
All in all, the spot treatment you choose comes down to what works best for you. If spot treatments just aren’t cutting it, a visit to the dermatologist could help you figure out alternative treatment plans like special prescriptions or diet changes.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.