Help me get rid of this lingering pimple!
November 28, 2009 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Help me get rid of this pimple! I've tried everything and it hasn't gone down in the week I've had it.

I'm male, if it matters. The pimple showed up on the tip of my nose, I believe, last Saturday. I didn't touch it for a few days until it started hurting a lot, so I made a mistake and tried to pop it. I couldn't. After squeezing it, it got red and swollen and since then I tried not to touch it. For some stupid reason, I decided to put Vaseline on it, hoping it would clog up and I could puncture it. It actually went down after the first night I applied Vaseline on it, by some divine miracle, and after that I've been applying toothpaste religiously every day and night (I've been home all Thanksgiving weekend).

When I woke up today I saw at the very top of the pimple there was a tiny red (well, darker red, since the pimple is all pinkish/red) spot, like there was bleeding/bruising and a white spot in the middle of that, though it might just be toothpaste I couldn't get off. It hasn't developed a white head this entire time. The skin over the pimple seems stretched out, if that makes sense. Also, it doesn't hurt anymore.

The pimple is extremely visible: red, swollen, and right on the tip of my nose. I want to get rid of it by Monday, when I have to go back to work/school. I'd rather not pop it, but if I should for quick results, I'd rather do it today so I have a day for it to heal tomorrow, and so I can possibly cover it up with makeup (I'd need tips on that too).

So what now? Do I pop it? Apply more toothpaste and wait? Also, when the skin around the pimple is looking dry, do I need to apply lotion or something?

Sorry if this post seems a bit jumbled, I just need this thing gone fast.
posted by hotdiggitydog to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Don't smother it. Pimples are your body's way of pushing bacteria out of your skin. Help the process; don't obstruct it.

In short: heat, liquid, and sweat.

Clean the skin gently with soap and water. Then apply a hot, clean, wet, washcloth. When the washcloth cools, put more hot water on it and do it again.

Also, go for a run, or some other kind of cardio. Then wash and repeat.

Don't touch it (your hands have bacteria that will make it worse), and let it have plenty of exposure to fresh air, when you're not putting hot compresses on it.
posted by bingo at 10:15 AM on November 28, 2009

Toothpaste is an old wives tale. Have you considered buying products actually meant to clear up pimples? Look for something with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Toothpaste can irritate your skin worse.
posted by ishotjr at 10:25 AM on November 28, 2009

Toothpaste works, actually, but there are things that work better.

I would try applying heat, then exfoliating. If you can't bring it to a head (and pop it) that way, I've been using teatree oil lately to get rid of pimples, and it works better than any zit med I've tried.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:28 AM on November 28, 2009

You need an emergency tube of salicyclic acid gel for this purpose -- or failing that, you can crush plain aspirin into a powder, then make a paste, and apply it to the area.

Emergency technique is to put a huge dot of salicyclic acid gel on the affected area, then cover it with a Band-aid for several hours. It's tough when the area is so prominent -- try doing it overnight. This should "draw the poison," as they'd say in the bad old days. In the meantime, apply a hot compress, then wash it and let it be for a bit. (If you have something to do tonight, there's flesh-colored concealer with salicyclic acid in it . . . I know you're a guy, but there it is.)

Don't try to puncture. This can scar -- don't ask me how I know.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:32 AM on November 28, 2009

Exfoliate with a product that contains beta hydroxy acid (or alpha hydroxy acid if you're allergic to aspirin). Then find a lotion containing benzoyl peroxide to kill the bacteria (start with a product with a 2.5% concentration) -- I'd recommend Paula's Choice but you'd have to order it and wait.
posted by transporter accident amy at 10:38 AM on November 28, 2009

A bread poultice. Wet a piece of bread with milk or water and stick it over the spot, allow it to dry. It will bring it to a head.
posted by fire&wings at 10:44 AM on November 28, 2009

Or, if you have the money, go get a facial at a spa. It's expensive, but they'll do all the work for you gently and safely without scarring.
posted by gillianr at 10:50 AM on November 28, 2009

Visine is probably an old wive's tale, too, but I've used it in the past on stubborn breakouts. It (seems to) take away some of the redness and dry out the spots within about a day. But it's not as scar-less or as effective as some of the above recommendations.
posted by juliplease at 11:16 AM on November 28, 2009

Make a poultice of onion, garlic and ginger. Apply it and cover it with a bandaid or something to keep it there. It should bring it to a head in a few hours.

I have much experience with this, and it's brought up some deep cysts.
posted by cmoj at 11:39 AM on November 28, 2009

Have you tried good ole Clearasil?
posted by radioamy at 11:47 AM on November 28, 2009

The thing about toothpaste is that nowadays it has all kinds of stuff in it that it didn't use to when that became a popular home remedy. It can make the redness really bad.
posted by ishotjr at 12:27 PM on November 28, 2009

Try BHA and/or AHA (depending on how sensitive your skin is) to clear the top then apply one (or both, but separately) of the following:

- manuka honey with a UMF of at least 16 (leave this on for as long as possible, if I'm at home all day it stays on all day)
- benzoyl peroxide at 2.5 or 5%

I really recommend the manuka honey (you can get it at health stores) because it really calms down the redness but some people find benzoyl peroxide works better. In my experience manuka honey doesn't leave (or not much) the 'after pimple' reddish/purple/brown scar mark.
posted by guniang at 12:28 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Pimples are a bacterial infection; when I get nasty ones, I smear them with antibiotic ointment and do a couple hours of the hottest hot compresses I can manage. Usually after that, the thing at least organizes well enough that I can drain it with minimal damage.
posted by KathrynT at 12:54 PM on November 28, 2009

Tea tree oil, slightly diluted, applied to the spot should fix it. Apply 2-3 times per day.
posted by kellyblah at 1:02 PM on November 28, 2009

Now that you've irritated the heck out of it, ice it--just that spot, not the area around it. Use a edge or corner of an ice cube. Repeat as often as for as long as you can take it. And leave it alone otherwise.
posted by tula at 1:06 PM on November 28, 2009

If you pop another one in the future (don't, but if you do), put Polysporin on it. Polysporin is my miracle cure for everything.
posted by pised at 1:20 PM on November 28, 2009

i had bad acne for years, including cystic acne. the only way that I know of to speed up the dissapearance of a pimple that you already have is sunlight. lots of sunlight literally shrinks pimples up. wash gently, keep your hands off (and keep them clean in case you have moments of weakness) and get some sun.

if you get a sunburn (even a little one) it will make everything 100 times worse. but if you just get a good amount of sun, it will help a lot.
posted by brenton at 1:27 PM on November 28, 2009

I use "drawing salve" or "draw out salve" for boils, which is basically what you've got. It's really hard to find anymore (if you have an independent or compounding pharmacy nearby, those tend to be the most likely places to find it), but the key ingredients you want are ichthammol (or something like ichtham*) and green soap. Boil-Eze (most drugstores) is okay, it's got an ichtham-ish ingredient, though I find it doesn't work as fast, but it is full of one of the *caines, so you'll get some pain relief while you wait for it to work.

If you can't find anything like that to put on it, at least stop touching it unless you are soaping it with antibacterial soap, and then use a cotton swab to apply a *sporin product. Let that soak for a day, and then try hot compresses until you can get it to a head and pop it.

But if you get no resolution by Monday, find a dermatologist. That's your fastest, most scar-free route to getting it dealt with.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:51 PM on November 28, 2009

Witch hazel can bring pimples to a head overnight. It will dry it out. Apply and reapply some before bedtime (after washing your face, of course). If it's got a head in the morning, gently pop it using a cotton swab or tissue. Ice it to reduce redness and apply Neosporin - which is GREAT for healing. Apply the Neosporin twice daily. Give it time and don't pick at it.

If it remains stubborn and you need to conceal it somehow on Monday, go to your local pharmacy (CVS, Walgreens, wherever) and look for Almay Clear Complexion Blemish Healing Spot Concealer in the makeup section. I swear by it. It's green, which neutralizes the redness, and it has some pimple-healing stuff in it. If you can't find that, any other green cover stick will work at reducing the redness.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 3:54 PM on November 28, 2009

I have had a lot of miserable pimples in my life. Rubbing alcohol works for me. I don't know about anyone else but my dad, who had it bad too, says "it dries them out". It will usually bring them to a head for me now.
posted by sully75 at 3:56 PM on November 28, 2009

If it is cystic, try tea tree oil.
If it isn't cystic, good ol' benzoil peroxcide (Oxy 10).
posted by k8t at 4:02 PM on November 28, 2009

I always had success lancing them.
-Burn the tip of a push-pin to sterilize it.
-Go in at a very very low angle, almost parallel to the skin if you can manage it. Hook the surface layer of skin, and ONLY puncture that layer. Then use a tissue or something to mop up the goop. After that, leave it be.
posted by dualityofmind at 5:08 PM on November 28, 2009

You already have a lot of advice on getting rid of the pimple, so I will give you advice on concealing it.

In the makeup aisle, you will see green concealer. Put that one on first and let it dry (it cancels out the red.)

Next, you need a skin-colored concealer to go on over that. Pick a shade that is slighly lighter than your skin in that area.

Makeup always goes on more smoothly for me when my skin isn't all dried out, so I think it would be best to do this after a shower.

Also, when you pick concealers, get the ones that contain salicylic acid. Neutrogena and Almay both make them.
posted by Ashley801 at 7:08 PM on November 28, 2009

Best answer: Just had one in the exact same spot a few weeks ago.

From my experience tea tree oil, heat, or ice don't help.

I'd suggest going the salicylic acid route tonight (if it's not too late). If you usually use salicylic acid (maybe in your regular face wash?) then go benzoyl peroxide. I find that if I'm on salicylic for a while my skin becomes resistant to it.

The stretched out look on your nose is actually a layer of dried skin. The toothpaste has been doing a really good job of drying it out. You can actually peel it off. I used a sharp edged pair of tweezers from Sephora. Just scrape at the edges of the puckering a little until you can pick up a bit of it and then tweeze and pull. Mine came off in one big piece.

If the SA/BP doesn't work tonight then tomorrow you're gonna have to go squeezing. I find pressing down around the pimple works better than pinching the sides together together. I press until it hurts-hurts. Make sure you do this many hours before bed so you can get in some good healing time.

Hopefully by this time you get some of that sucker out.
I actually find that Visine helps reduce redness slightly so if you're red on Monday morning try a few drops.
My favorite "cover up" product is this. It's Dr Brandt's Pores No More.
I'm a guy, and somewhat anti-makeup on guys. This is the closest I'll go.
It's slightly tinted (which really doesn't show up). It doesn't actually cover the redness but its best quality is its ability to significantly reduce shine. In my experience, a red nose isn't too noticeable, but add shine and you've got Rudolph. Just a thin layer will keep your nose matte for hours. It's expensive but awesome (you can find it at Sephora).

Good luck!
posted by simplethings at 12:05 AM on November 29, 2009

It sounds like you've got mostly irritation and inflammation. To bring down the swelling try some cortisone cream. You can find a 10% cream OTC at any pharmacy. Look for one that's non-greasy since some come in a Vaseline-like base. You don't want to use this too frequently because cortisone creams have some side effects with longterm use. However using it for a few days to shrink a pimple will be fine.

You've got a lot of suggestions here. Pick ONE and try it. If you slap toothpaste, cortisone, AHA and Boil-ease on that sucker, you're just going to irritate it more.
posted by 26.2 at 11:23 AM on November 29, 2009

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