Those pimples can be frustrating, especially when they pop up out of nowhere or get irritated and red. Unfortunately, most of us can’t avoid the occasional flare-up. When that happens, acne spot treatments might be the right answer.
What is an Acne Spot Treatment?
Acne spot treatments are either over-the-counter or prescription creams that you use directly on a blemish to clear it up. They usually contain a concentrated dose of some of the most common acne-fighting ingredients, such as:
- Benzoyl peroxide –a topical cream that targets and kills bacteria on the skin that can lead to acne. It also removes dead skin cells and oil that get trapped inside pores and lead to pimples. Benzoyl peroxide for daily use usually comes in lower concentrations (2.5%), but there are products with 5% or 10% benzoyl peroxide that can be effective for spot treatment.
- Salicylic acid – salicylates that help skin shed layers of dead skin cells, clearing out pores to minimize clogged pores. These skin creams can also help with redness and inflammation on your skin.
- Sulfur – sulfur-based creams dry out the skin to get rid of bacteria and oil that is clogging pores, but can leave your skin feeling dry.
- Retinoid cream –topical retinoid creams (with adapalene) are available for spot treatment to clear out pores and exfoliate dead skin, dirt, and oils. Some brands are also available by prescription.
When Should You Use Acne Spot Treatments for Maximum Benefit?
The goal of an acne spot treatment is to apply a high dose of acne-fighting ingredients to a breakout. It’s not intended for use on your whole face, and usually not something you would use over long periods of time.
Apply a small dab of acne spot treatment directly to the pimple and leave it on for several hours. Many people use these treatments overnight to give skin time to absorb the acne-fighting ingredients and avoid obvious spot treatments on your skin during the day. You can wash your face when you wake up, or after a few hours, to remove any of the excess product that remains.
Mistakes to Avoid with Acne Spot Treatments
Common mistakes people make when using acne spot treatments include:
- Using spot treatments too often – Spot treatments are intended for short-term use with active pimples. Most products will cause some dryness, so using them too much could make your skin overly dry and irritated.
- Replacing daily acne treatments with spot treatments –Daily acne treatment creams are designed to avoid breakouts. If you’re not sure whether you have a spot treatment or daily treatment, ask a skincare consultant about when and how to use each one correctly.
- Applying spot treatments over large areas of your skin – Spot treatments are targeted, so you don’t want to apply them over large areas of mostly clear skin. This can irritate healthy skin, and it’s a waste of product.
- Using spot treatments not intended for your skin –There is a lot of information on the internet about natural acne spot treatments. Some of it is bad information, and some of it is downright dangerous. Products like Windex, toothpaste, or lemon juice don’t help and instead could irritate skin, causing rashes and inflammation. Another persistent internet myth—that urine from a baby’s diaper or your own urine first thing in the morning can help—has no scientific evidence to back it up (and it’s pretty gross).
If you have questions about how to use spot treatments, or need to find a good treatment for your occasional acne flare-ups, contact one of our skincare consultants today.