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Solve a Sudden Pimple Problem

Good skin care can't fully protect you from waking up with a big pimple on an important day. If that happens, Wechsler says to try these steps:

  1. Apply a warm compress for 10 minutes to help the pimple come to a head.
  2. Try spot treatments with a 2% salicylic acid product. Apply gentle, even pressure to the blemish on both sides with two cotton swabs. If anything is ready to come out, it will then. Don't squeeze, and never use your fingers.
  3. If the blemish doesn’t drain, apply an ice pack.

“You can also put a little bit of 1% hydrocortisone cream on as an emergency measure, but it’s not something you should do all the time for acne,” Wechsler says.

To spot-treat and hide a pimple, use a blemish eraser stick that has salicylic acid on one end and concealer makeup on the other end.

What a Dermatologist Can Do for You

If you're still unhappy with your acne, see a dermatologist. A dermatologist can prescribe stronger acne medications. The doctor can also use laser and heat treatments to kill bacteria on your face, as well as corticosteroid injections to ease painful, large acne lesions.

If you already have scars from acne, the dermatologist can decrease them with treatments such as laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, chemical peels, surgery, and skin fillers.

Acne Tips for People of Color

Some people of color have to deal with these two acne-related problems:

  • Dark spots. Spots that appear where blemishes have healed usually disappear over time. But it can help to apply skin-lightening products. Your dermatologist may also suggest a concealer makeup to cover the spots and make them less apparent.
  • Keloids. These raised scars are larger than the original blemish and tough to get rid of. “It’s a good idea to be aggressive in treating acne to prevent these," Crutchfield says.

A Word of Advice for Everyone

Beware of "miracle cures." There are no overnight cures for acne. If you hear someone on TV or the radio promising a fast, guaranteed treatment for acne, it's just hype to get you to buy their product.

“You have to use (good acne treatment) on a regular basis and make a two-month commitment,” says dermatologist Crutchfield. “Then decide if it’s working.”

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