How do I make these single pimples go away ASAP?
June 6, 2017 8:09 AM   Subscribe

I switched acne meds and now I get these single cystic-looking pimples, usually on the lower half of my face. Usually only one arises at a time and each lasts about a week. I have an important event coming up on Friday: is there any way I can eradicate the latest one before then?

I used to use benzoyl peroxide (BP 5%) + clindamycin. Then, since that was no longer covered by insurance, I switched to Claror Acne Treatment S1 with BP 2.5% a few months ago. Since I switched, I've been going thru this skin cycle where a single pimple will arise overnight, be sore and red, become white over a day or 2 (likely filled with pus), then crystallize and fall off over the next two days, leaving a purple/brown scar that takes weeks to fade. Then another one will arise in the following week. The pimples are hard to cover with makeup since they're raised white spots with a red ring around it.

Putting BP on twice a day doesn't seem to help. I also never get more than one of these at once (yet, thank god).

What should I do to get rid of them? The latest one has emerged and I have a big event on Friday. I would really like it to go away by then. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing I would get a cortisone shot for, but I may be wrong.

I'm female and 23 years old. I'm very stressed out lately, but then again I was stressed out before switching the meds and didn't get the same breakouts. It doesn't seem to be super hormonally linked: some have happened during my period, some before or after. I'm not on birth control.

In case you are curious, here is, uh, an imgur album of the pimples in question. (Obviously TW if you don't like seeing this kind of stuff.) The latest one is the last two images in the album.
posted by glass origami quicksilver robot to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Hydrocolloid bandages! For your current zit status, a hydrocolloid bandage is going to be a really good, non-aggressive way to speed up the progression of the zit.

In the future, adding salicylic acid + moisturizer (I like stridex wipes + cerave) to your daily routine will help control/speed up your breakouts, but with an event coming up on Friday you shouldn't do anything to alter your routine now.
posted by phunniemee at 8:17 AM on June 6, 2017 [7 favorites]

I don't know how to prevent them, but for your upcoming event, you could schedule an appointment asap with a dermatologist or an aesthetician for an "extraction," otherwise known as popping it. This is absolutely something they do.
posted by thejanna at 8:17 AM on June 6, 2017

I haven't used either of those meds but when I have a break out I put either bacitracin or neosporin on it (depending on what I have on hand, no other determining criteria).

I also reduce/eliminate my intake of dairy. Actually, that pretty much keeps me from breaking out to begin with.
posted by vignettist at 8:19 AM on June 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

A derm will also inject a tiny bit of cortisone (3-4 pin pricks) that in my experience, reduces them to 20%.

I had these really bad. Eventually went with Accutane (controversial!) which worked like a magic charm.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:19 AM on June 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes to Hydrocolloid bandages! recommended by phunniemee above. I haven't been able to find them in the local stores but they must have them somewhere (edited to add: I buy the from amazon), perhaps try calling around. I think the material is also used for blisters so they may come in different packaging. I haven't found any brand to be any different from any other - they come in a 24 dot sheet of two sizes, 12 of each.
posted by RoadScholar at 8:27 AM on June 6, 2017

I know I bang on about this but cut out dairy entirely! You'll be surprised how quickly it takes effect. For a quick fix I echo the others about seeing a dermatologist, especially for cystic acne.
posted by orrnyereg at 8:31 AM on June 6, 2017

Yes, totally, hydrocolloid bandages. One other advantage of using them I haven't seen mentioned yet is that if you're at the stage where a whitehead is showing, the bandage will help absorb the gunk so the pimple itself is flattened out, so it'll be much easier to cover with makeup even if discoloration is still lingering on Friday.
posted by superfluousm at 8:36 AM on June 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

You may also find some useful answers in this old thread.
posted by vignettist at 8:40 AM on June 6, 2017

I also put neosporin on them and it works like a charm!

Also, I read something by a wound specialist and new research says keeping the wound moist speeds healing. That's a mini infection, so definitely the neosporin gel kind is the trick.
posted by jbenben at 9:02 AM on June 6, 2017

This is probably going to be incredibly unpopular here, but whenever I get a stray pimple or I can feel one starting, I prick it (even if it's not fully raised yet, just when I can feel that slight pain under my skin) with a tiny pin like the ones seamstresses use to hold folds in place. Then I apply some benzoyl peroxide lotion to it. Most of the time the pimple never raises, or if it does I repeat the process, give it a day, and usually it never reaches the pus/white stage. Essentially in my very unscientific mind I am applying the benzoyl peroxide directly into the infection under the skin, and it dries it out and usually it just goes away or I am able to extract the hard nugget of blockage that was causing the zit in the first place. I also prick it when it reaches the white stage because the pus can come out of that hole and there won't be scarring (unlike if you press and pop it).

Again, not many people like the idea of poking their face with a needle and ymmv, but this has always been the quickest and most effective method for me. Also I've never gotten a further infection/bad reaction to poking with the pin. Usually the pimples start going down overnight. I'm just someone whose had really really bad skin before, tried everything, and now has great skin. Lots of experience with random methods. Try it at your own comfort/risk.
posted by sprezzy at 9:05 AM on June 6, 2017

Thanks all. Do I need to pop the pimple before using a hydrocolloid bandage? The Amazon reviews for these products say I should.

Re: diet: I'm vegetarian and rarely eat dairy, only soymilk and almond milk.
posted by glass origami quicksilver robot at 9:21 AM on June 6, 2017

That'll definitely speed up the process, but only if you do it safely and cleanly. You want a very very sharp disinfected (alcohol, maybe flame and alcohol) needle, swab the zit with alcohol, swab your fingers with alcohol. Simply give your zit a careful prick right in the center of the white just to break the surface and do not squeeze, that'll bruise and irritate your skin. Let the bandage do its job.
posted by phunniemee at 9:25 AM on June 6, 2017

I've found that they absolutely only work after popping. Never had one accomplish anything otherwise, and I've been using them for about 3 years.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 9:38 AM on June 6, 2017

This BHA 9 product work amazingly well and fast.
posted by trinity8-director at 9:40 AM on June 6, 2017

I used to go to my derm for kenalog shots - a little less hard core than cortisone - and it would almost always be gone in a couple hours. (And doesn't hurt, it's quick.)
posted by crankyrogalsky at 9:41 AM on June 6, 2017

Oh, yeah, prick it first if you want the bandage to do anything. If you sterilize the tip of the pin and just prick very very lightly, you'll do way less damage than you would squeezing with possibly dirty fingers. And if you immediately cover with the hydrocolloid bandage, you're protecting the open wound from debris and germs. It's technically "worse" than leaving it altogether alone but the risk of aggravating anything is minimal if you're sterile and careful.

IAMNADerm, etc.
posted by superfluousm at 10:00 AM on June 6, 2017

I tried various creams/remedies for my cystic acne and nothing worked (although never those band aids - I'd be interested in hearing if those work for you) until I applied Cortisone cream onto the zit. It was greatly reduced in a day, and gone within 2-3 days. It also reduced redness.

Good luck!
posted by too bad you're not me at 11:05 AM on June 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Anecdata; almonds totally make me break out. Maybe try to go without the almond milk for a few days and see what happens.
posted by vignettist at 11:49 AM on June 6, 2017

For those shopping for hydrocolloid bandages in U.S. brick and mortar stores (e.g., CVS, Target, Walgreens), look for "blister bandages."
posted by virago at 6:32 PM on June 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Soymilk gives me that kind of acne like crazy. It messes with my BCP and causes weird hormone spikes. :(

I came in to recommend those pimple bandaids, too. I like the COSRX variety and am about to order some right now!
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:45 PM on June 6, 2017

Can you use a vitamin C product (NOT lemon juice!) on the scar to make it fade faster?

Also, I'd be careful with over-applying bpo or other treatments to dry out the pimple. I had a big, painful cyst and dried it out, and now have dry flakes over around 1/4 of my chin that I can't cover with make-up.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 2:22 AM on June 7, 2017

I recommend that you listen to the Science VS podcast episode on acne, if you want scientifically-based advice on what works longer-term.
posted by mortaddams at 7:10 AM on June 7, 2017

Would you consider applying sunscreen/moisturizer with sunscreen to your face and neck? Although a small/tiny amount of UV can help acne, too much is bad (even if its from the sun). You'd apply the sunscreen daily:
* going outside for a walk during lunch hour/walking 10 minutes to restaurant and 10 minutes back
* spending the daytime shopping -- the UV comes through the car windows and there's exposure to UV even during the short walks (30 sec.) between the car and the stores
* spending most of the the day outside, especially between 9 and 5.
posted by dlwr300 at 8:39 AM on June 7, 2017

Admittedly I have not had the nerve to look at your pictures, but if they have pus in them, they are pustules, they are not nodules or cysts. The good news is this is generally less severe.

Please don't get distracted by the idea that anything you eat might be causing this. There is some research supporting the idea that a low GI diet may contribute to improving acne, as well as some research that skim or semi-skim milk may make acne worse (but that whole milk is OK). I'm not saying an elimination diet isn't worth a try, but that kind of thing takes months, not days.

From what I understand, a cortisone injection from a dermatologist is the only thing that will make a pimple disappear in 48 hours or less. I have no expertise no personal experience in this, since dermatologists are not available in the UK for that kind of treatment. But in the US, you may be able to find someone who can help you.

I would also suggest you try to get another benzoyl peroxide product but with a 5% concentration or more. It could be that your current one is not strong enough for your needs. Or maybe it's the clindamycin that's the missing link. But I would try first to get a stronger benzoyl peroxide treatment.

With your BP treatment, try applying it both morning and evening, and leaving it for 30 minutes untouched after application. No-one will tell you this, but when I did get this piece of advice from someone that was when the last of my acne finally began to heal. Eventually you might be able to skip the morning dose and just treat in the evening.
posted by tel3path at 10:45 AM on June 7, 2017

Not sure how you can get this product ASAP, but for future cystic acne, this Renee Rouleau anti-cyst treatment is like magic (though it's expensive). Substantially reduces them overnight, it's amazing. I had a huge one on Monday, in fact, and it's essentially gone now. Benzoyle peroxide works well for other kinds of acne, but it doesn't seem to work well for cystic acne, in my experience.
posted by odin53 at 12:21 PM on June 7, 2017

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