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How to deal with a painful pimple

A dark-haired woman leans into her bathroom mirror, examining a spot on her cheek with both hands.

Feb. 18, 2022—It happens to so many of us: Without a word of warning, a large, painful pimple appears on your face. You know you shouldn't squeeze it, but what can you do about it?

Here are seven tips from the American Academy of Dermatology:

How to treat a painful pimple

1. DO wash your skin gently first. Use a mild, fragrance-free cleanser.

2. DO wrap an ice cube in a paper towel and apply it for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat twice, waiting 10 minutes between each icing.

3. DO apply a thin layer of a product that contains 2% benzoyl peroxide. Find this at your local drugstore.

4. DO apply a warm compress once you see a whitehead forming. Apply the compress for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this three to four times daily until the pimple releases pus and heals.

5. DON'T pop, squeeze or pick at the pimple. It'll make the pimple more obvious and could lead to infection.

6. DON'T apply toothpaste. Some of the ingredients—like hydrogen peroxide and alcohol—can clog your pores and irritate your skin.

7. DON'T apply homemade treatments found on the internet even if they're advertised as "natural." Just because something is natural doesn't mean it's good for you.

Source: American Academy of Dermatology

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The information found in the Health Library is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice nor does it represent the views or position of WHMC. Readers should always consult with their healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment, including for specific medical needs.