As far as pimples go, those deep, humungous cystic-acne ones are probably the most traumatic. Aside from how much surface area those suckers tend to cover, the pain they cause makes them impossible to ignore.
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Press on one, and it reverberates throughout your entire face (that’s not an exaggeration). “Usually, people run to their dermatologist’s office for a quick cortisone injection to dry up those monsters within hours,” says Rachel Nazarian, a dermatologist with the Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. But what if you just don’t have the time (or money) to pop into your derm’s office that regularly? Here are the six next-best treatments top dermatologists recommend for getting rid of those under-the-surface cysts ASAP.
Whatever you do, don’t try to pop it. “The hardest thing for me to communicate with my patients is that often, around age 20, women experience a major change in their acne. No longer are the zits the juicy whiteheads that explode with a satisfying pop.
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By the mid-20s and 30s, acne is made of deep pockets of white blood cells, and these can’t be popped. Keep your hands off these awful kinds of zits; popping only makes them worse.” –Scott Dunbar, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group
Ice it like a sprained ankle. “Applying an ice cube directly to your pimple for several seconds will constrict small blood vessels feeding the cyst and immediately decrease redness and size.” –Nazarian
Try Renee Rouleau Anti-Cyst Treatment. “Since cysts form on the inner layers of the skin, they need a product that can be absorbed deep down. This Renee Rouleau product does that, and it has a lactic acid-based formula that acts as an anti-inflammatory.” –Karen Hammerman, a dermatologist with Schweiger Dermatology Group
Mix this cocktail of three acne products. “The combination of these three over-the-counter products–a sulfur-containing cream (try Olay Professional Pro-X Clear Intensive Refining Sulfur Mask), a benzoyl peroxide cream (try Arithmetic Acne Control Complex), and a mild cortisone cream (try Cortizone-10)–usually proves very effective when mixed and applied two to three times a day over the cyst for seven to ten days. The cyst will start to significantly reduce in size after two to three days.” –Leyda Bowes, the medical director at Bowes Aesthetics in Miami
Layer your treatments correctly. “Treat painful undergrounders with this order of medications: a hydrocortisone cream to reduce inflammation, a 2 percent salicylic acid product to dry out excess oil, and then benzoyl peroxide to kill acne-causing bacteria.” –Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Color correct the cyst away. “Use makeup with a slight green tinge to help mask redness and blend your pimple into your natural skin tone.” –Nazarian
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