Everyone’s asking the million dollar question of how to get rid of pimples. Truthfully there’s no concrete answer to that even though it affects us all (well, 80% of us anyway).
I’ve woken up many mornings and wanted to slam my fist into the pimple in the mirror.
What’s your worst pimple reaction? Come on, share it with us in the comments below.
My point is that we’re in this together. I’m exactly like you and have had to deal with the sometimes embarrassing problem of acne flare-ups or having my face break out with zits exactly when I need it not to. LOL
First date? Check. Job interview? Gotcha. First day of school? Been there. Wedding? Oh crap.
Because of that, this blog and this article exists. I’ve made researching and learning about fighting and curing pimples my mission. I’ve literally typed in and searched for “how to get rid of pimples” and every variation of that, more than anyone you know.
I’ve been called the Acne Fighting Ninja and I’m proud of it!
Rest easy my pimple-fighting friend, hope isn’t lost.
We’re learning more and more about fighting acne and killing zits through diligent research, and of course through the huge movement towards natural treatment options and all-natural products likes face washes and moisturizers. This has been dubbed the “green revolution”.
We’ll cover all of this and more in this comprehensive article. This is lengthy. Bookmark or save it now if you can’t finish it, knowing this information is the first step towards owning pimples, and it’s a relatively easy process. You can even skip down to the actual tips and remedies if you’re short on time.
I’m stating the obvious here, but it’s important. Everyone has a different skin type. There’s more than one type of acne. There are lots of causes or triggers for pimples. And there’s certainly dozens and dozens (if not hundreds) of home remedies for treating zits… bottom line is it’s confusing.
To add to this confusion, breaking-edge research recently discovered 1000 strains of the acne bacteria P. acnes, and so far they’ve sequenced the genomes of 66 of those strains… this research brings with it some hope. More on this later and I cover it in another post titled “Do Foods Cause Acne”.
The Science of Getting Rid of Zits
Identifying the triggers for acne in your case is no easy task. If none of the acne remedies you’re trying work, then you’ll need to visit a dermatologist and she can help identify some possible direct causes and solutions.
Here we’re talking specifically about how to get rid of pimples, but of course this also includes acne and zits as they’re mostly the same thing just at varying degrees.
As you may know, the ultimate cause of both pimples and acne is when the oily sebum (which occurs naturally in our skin) from the sebaceous glands becomes too thick (usually due to excessive bacteria build-up) and clogs the pores. In turn the hair follicles become inflamed and the results are the pimples we know and hate.
Technically, for those who want to know, acne is a disease of the pilosebaceous units (PSUs). These are found just beneath the skin. We all have lots of PSUs on our face, upper back, and chest, and they contain sebaceous glands that are connected to hair follicles.
This alone should be proof enough that people who tend to break out should make healthy face washing (more on that later) a daily ritual, not an occasional after thought.
Types of Pimple Lesions
This diagram from the U.S. National Library of Medicine helps to make the difference more clear between these three types of common acne lesions. They are:
- Microcomedo – which is just a clogged hair follicle (a.k.a. clogged pore) that may or may not develop into something worse. This is a simple, non-inflammatory comedo. If the Propionibacterium acnes (acne bacteria also known as P. acnes) colonizes the duct of the sebaceous follicle it can lead to inflammatory pimples (also called a pustule) and become one of the following two types of pimples you might recognize.
- Open Comedo lesions (a.k.a. Blackheads) are the inflamed progression from a clogged hair follicle and result when the comedo reaches the surface of the skin and opens up (hence the name). It has a blackish appearance because of the sebum’s response to exposure to air. A blackhead isn’t black due to dirt as you may have read.
- Closed Comedos, or Whiteheads, are the inflamed progression from clogged follicles and they remain under the skin, thus they’re called Closed Comedos. The white in Whiteheads is the visible formation of inflamed sebum below the surface of the skin.
There are other classifications of lesions which are often associated with acne and pimples, and they are:
- Papules – Early stages of an inflamed lesion that will typically appear as a small, pink bump on your skin, often tender and sore.
- Pustules (known most commonly as pimples) – These are Papules which are topped by white or yellow pus-filled lesions, and there may be redness at the base.
- Cysts – Often referred to as cystic acne, these are deep, painful, pus-filled lesions that are often associated with scarring.
- Nodules – These are large, painful, solid lesions that are lodged deep within the skin. Called nodular acne, they can often be found on top of cystic acne and there is a lot of confusion surrounding nodules (whether they’re a distinct form of acne separate from cystic acne, or just a variance of it). For our discussion at this basic level we’ll leave it at that.
- There are other conditions which are beyond the scope of this general article, but some of them you may have heard of, like Gram-negative folliculitis (the one associated with using too much antibiotic to fight other acne lesions), Acne conglobata, Pyoderma faciale, and Acne fulminans.
As I mentioned earlier, new science is showing that most likely it is bacteria on our skin (all of us have these bacteria), and more importantly the strains of that bacteria that we have, which is a strong factor in who suffers from acne and who doesn’t.
The researchers found that those with acne had a higher rate of the bad strains, while those without acne had a higher rate of the “good” bacteria strains. And those good strains might even be a natural acne fighter on their own, giving researchers hope that maybe some day a lotion infused with good bacteria can solve this problem once and for all.
Until then, however, the daily fight trudges on.
Foods and Acne
I referenced the article earlier about whether or not foods can cause acne, and I highly recommend you check it out when you have the time.
Because as it turns out, yes the foods we eat do matter. But let me make it more clear since this can get muddy if I don’t.
Only about 80% of the population have to deal with pimples, the remaining 20%, or 1 in 5 of us, may never get anything more than a teeny tiny zit. That research about the acne bacteria strains sheds light on why some do and some don’t suffer with it… it’s the bacteria strains that we have or don’t have.
So, if you have acne you can safely assume you have the bad acne causing or triggering bacteria strain. This alone doesn’t mean you’ll get acne, merely that you’re prone to it.
Not all 80% of us acne sufferers are walking around with gooey zits, we’re just prone to it. So if you’re prone to getting acne, then yes, what you eat matters and matters a lot.
If you’re one of the 1 in 5 lucky people who don’t get pimples then by all means, eat whatever you like.
For the purposes of this article, which is helping you to learn how to get rid of pimples, the food take away for you and I is that we need to avoid as much as possible foods that are high glycemic index foods.
These foods have been shown through research to cause your blood glucose levels to fluctuate drastically, and eventually spike and soar. That soaring blood sugar level causes a flood of hormones to be released that eventually stimulate the oil gland, which ultimately leads to the nasty zits we hate.
So avoid high glycemic index foods whenever possible. These types of foods include high carb foods like potatoes and white breads, and of course simple sugars.
This is part of the reason I’m a huge advocate of the Keto lifestyle for anyone suffering from acne. First, it flat out makes you look and feel healthy. Check out any Reddit board and see what people say about going Keto.
Not only does it actually make you look and feel better and improve the functioning of vital systems, but it just works for most people in reducing their acne or even stopping it.
If you want to change how and what you eat as part of a lifestyle change, or really want to put a stop to acne in your life, start by checking out the Keto Diet here.
Home Remedies For Getting Rid Of Pimples
Now let’s look at some of the most popular home remedies and how people are using them. It’s important to remember that these may or may not work for you, and I always recommend talking to your doctor or specialist anyway before you start some natural remedies, especially if yours is a severe case that could result in acne scarring.
If you haven’t gotten your free copy of my guide, “The Top 5 Most Coveted Acne Fighting Home Remedies” then you can subscribe to my newsletter and get it for free, just go to this page right now while you’re thinking about it and I’ll send that guide out right away… it’s my most popular by far.
Home Remedy #1 – Clean Pillow Case
This first step with any treatment is to understand how it works and decide if it’s right for you. However, some of them are so simple, so natural that it doesn’t hurt to try them.
This one may surprise you because it isn’t a topical treatment or even something you eat. Yes, washing your pillow case can help get rid of pimples for a lot of people.
There’s no direct evidence (peer-reviewed studies) that I’m aware of, though one clinical trial was conducted on whether or not silk pillow cases can reduce Acne Vulgaris.
According to Dr. David E. Bank, director and founder of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, in this article at the Huffington Post, your pillow case can be detrimental to your skin. He says:
“Acne mechanica is any type of acne that is the result of material or objects touching your face. When your pillowcase isn’t laundered or changed regularly, a build-up of dirt and oil from the environment as well as your skin and hair touching the pillow is transferred back to your skin. This can clog pores and cause blemishes.”
So I recommend that you wash your pillow case after every second night, and there’s no harm in trying silk pillow cases despite no conclusive results from the cited case study.
Oh, and did you catch what Dr. Bank said there? About touching your face? There is no reason whatsoever to be introducing dirt and bacteria from your hands onto your face. Just don’t do it if at all possible.
Home Remedy #2 – Honey
Do you know what you’re putting on your face? When you wash your skin you kind of expect that you’re taking old oils and dirt off, not putting stuff on to your skin. But it might surprise you to know that many soaps are made with vegetable oils and even sometimes animal fats.
Ewww. Don’t you think that these might seep back in to your pores? Exactly.
And your skin is the only organ of your body that can “absorb” nutrients from the outside, so it makes perfect sense to use natural, healthy ingredients to wash and moisturize your skin.
That’s why, as those who know me are aware, I’m very picky about which skin care businesses I’m affiliated with. Here’s why I love and recommend Beauty By Earth, and you will, too.
Beauty By Earth is a company that I sought out. I approached them and requested an affiliation because I was that impressed with their commitment to all-natural and earth-friendly products that ACTUALLY work.
It’s one thing for a company to claim that they’re all-natural, but quite another for a company to use only natural and organic, non-GMO ingredients, and to have products which are professionally formulated in a cruelty-free lab and which actually deliver great skin care. Oh, and be made right here in the U.S. in an FDA approved facility.
Here’s an excerpt from their mission statement: “providing premium organic and all natural skin care products of the highest quality, without the premium price.”
Visit Beauty By Earth by clicking here and see why I’m in love with the company and their products.
If you must use a retail wash, then opt for something mild like Cetaphil or Neutrogena, or trusted acne products. If you’ve tried everything and are still battling acne then have a look at Nanocleanse Wash at Amazon; quite a few people (even some with cystic acne) swear by it. It does contain Benzyl Peroxide and I’m not a fan of anything harsh touching my skin, but sometimes you just have to go at it hard and this will likely do it.
Now back to remedy number 2. Honey is my secret weapon when battling acne because it’s amazingly gentle yet powerful in its ability to help strip away natural oils. When combined with a natural ingredient like cinnamon it’s even more powerful. There are lots of recipes and routines available on the web so you can see what other people are doing, like this post at Live Strong.
If you want to try a honey face wash, simply mix 1/8 of a teaspoon of cinnamon with 1 tablespoon of raw (preferably organic) honey. Rub the mixture (gently) on to your skin with a few finger tips and massage it in to the skin. Let it sit for a few minutes if you can (up to 10 or 15 minutes is great).
Though my preferred method lately is the one shown below in the action plan, number 1. It uses organic oat flour and honey. Check it out.
The natural antibacterial properties of these two provide a powerful and natural cleanser for acne-prone skin. And I love the smell.
Note: Always try new treatments in small amounts and over short periods of time to see how your skin reacts. And as I always say, with natural acne remedies like this you have little to lose, so try it and see if it helps your skin and helps you lose the acne.
Home Remedy #3 – Zinc
Zinc deficiency has been shown in quite a few studies on acne and nutrients to be linked in some way to an increase in acne. While still not conclusive, there’s enough in this body of evidence to make me believe that there’s every reason to make sure that I get a recommended amount of Zinc in my diet, and I also make certain that I use zinc on my pimples whenever I have a breakout.
It’s been said that 30 mg of zinc daily (via foods or supplement) may be helpful for acne and that this is a safe dose for most people. Once again, please make sure to ask your doctor before you take any supplements or use a home remedy. You can get too much zinc, so more isn’t always better.
If your multi-vitamin doesn’t include zinc then perhaps an additional daily zinc dosage may be helpful.
However, if you’re going to take zinc long-term then it’s advisable to take 1 mg to 3 mg of copper daily as well because zinc supplements can cause a copper deficiency. And whole health is about making sure that every part of your body is operating at its maximum potential, and we need all of these nutrients to do it.
You can also use zinc products on the outside of your skin. Even though I always go natural whenever possible, I used to use a Head & Shoulders type of product (they contain zinc) because of some evidence suggesting that it’s great for your skin and for minimizing hair loss. The Nurse Practitioner at my Dermatologist’s office suggested I can also use the shampoo to wash my face when I have a flare-up because of the zinc. In the end all-natural is better, no question in my mind.
Home Remedy #4 – Tea Tree Oil
The real beauty of tea tree oil is that it is naturally antibacterial and also has the ability to serve in a washing solution and also as part of a moisturizing regimen.
This isn’t a magic solution, no home remedy is. These should form the basis of an overall new lifestyle, one that promotes healthy skin and prohibits the bad bacteria and conditions which allow them to thrive.
Extracted from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree in Australia, Tea Tree Oil contains 100 different compounds like terpenes and their alcohols.
The great news is that more and more research is showing that Tea Tree Oil can be a truly effective weapon in your acne-fighting tool chest.
I like this one pictured at Amazon, because it includes vitamin E to help your skin fight and heal (reducing scarring) and it’s made for one thing… fighting acne. Plus I can get behind the company’s ‘good citizen‘ attitude…. this is 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, lanolin-free, gluten-free, GMO-free. Click the image to check it out.
This bit is an excerpt taken from the book Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Chapter 18 “Herbal Treatment for Dermatologic Disorders”.
A study of 124 patients compared 5% tea tree oil in a water-based gel with 5% benzoyl peroxide. Although the tea tree oil did not act as rapidly as benzoyl peroxide, it did show statistical improvement in the number of acne lesions at the end of 3 months, and there was a significantly lower incidence of adverse effects such as dryness, irritation, itching, and burning with tea tree oil (44%) than with benzoyl peroxide (79%).
I recommend that you always use a 5% Tea Tree Oil solution and only externally.
Acne Fighting Dont’s – That Means Never
Alright, when I say never I mean mostly never. If you’re days from a wedding and you’ve got to get rid of that thing, then at the very least use caution when breaking one of these bad acne fighting rules.
- Don’t ever, ever, ever pick at or pop a zit. OK, only if you’re going to a wedding. Or a job interview. Or a first date… alright, anything important. Why? Because you’re more likely to introduce bacteria into an already inflamed lesion. And, the biggie here, you’re increasing the possibility of acne scarring. If you just have to, if you can’t stop yourself, then at least sterilize the area and your hands and fingers before you do it. Then gently as you possibly can work the zit juice out (gross, but it makes the point LOL).
- Don’t use face washes or lotions that have artificial fragrances and colors, or unnecessary ingredients. It’s not necessary and may further irritate the skin.
- Never get a sunburn on your face. OK, we’ve all done it. Guilty. But now you know and so you should make every effort to cover your face with a wide-brimmed hat and also use plenty of quality sunscreen made specifically for your face. A sunburn can cause inflammation and irritation which gives your body one more thing to fight, reducing it’s natural immune response to pimples.
I think that a lot of times there’s too much information and you’re left wondering what to do with it all.
Because of that I want you to do a few things
- Bookmark and share this page right now (please take a second and share it if you haven’t), which will make it easier to find later and may help someone else who’s suffering.
- Then, I want you to reread this article once or twice in the coming week because it’ll help you to remember some of these important tips, and also serve as a reminder to actually incorporate them into your daily routine. How many times have I read an article, intended to follow through with something, and didn’t? Exactly. Plus, by coming back to my blog you’ll find great new articles on my latest research and findings.
- Finally, I want you to consider the following 5 daily acne fighting steps to be your take away, and the 5 things you promise to start doing right away.
Then add more and more healthy lifestyle changes to your arsenal as you go. So let’s get to it.
How To Get Rid Of Pimples Forever In 5 Daily Steps
This is your “in the trenches” acne fighting action plan. While everyone should and could adhere to these natural healthy-skin tips (and more), these are the ones which are vitally important if you need to get rid of acne within a week or even to get rid of blind pimples.
For those who don’t know, blind pimples are also called inside pimples, they’re under the skin and not quite noticeable to the eye yet and are the early stages of an inflamed lesion.
Not everyone will respond as well but you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Some people who truly give it their all may be able to eliminate almost all acne flareups, forever, by changing their habits and lifestyle.
These are the core actions of your new routine and you should make them a part of your life even if you’re not in a pimple fight right now.
- Wash your face and forehead (and neck, chest and back if necessary) with a gentle (natural) cleanser twice a day. Be certain that you’re using a natural cleanser like plain old organic oat flour. Yes, you read that correctly. You can get organic oat flour at your local health food store or order it from Amazon. Simply add a little “distilled water” to the flour and make a mushy mixture that’s not quite a paste. Or used filtered water, but try to avoid the heavily chlorinated city waters for your face. Add a dab of honey and 2 or 3 drops of tea tree oil to the mixture for extra moisturizing and anti-bacterial power. You can use a stronger natural cleaner at night if you really need more help to remove makeup, but this is a way to gently clean your face. Plus, oats contain something called saponins which act as a cleansing agent, and they’re also a great antioxidant. This is a win – win natural solution.
- Change your pillowcase every day. I usually recommend that people change their pillowcase at least twice a week, but if you’re knee-deep in a pimple fight then change it every night so that you’re not putting your clean face on last nights old oil and bacteria. It’s super easy and so affordable. And you will be amazed at the difference it makes to your face and how much better you sleep with a fresh smelling pillow kissing your nose goodnight.
- Take a daily probiotic to help your body better process and synthesize nutrients that you eat and drink. It also helps your body to fight off bad bacteria, giving your immune system an overall stronger capability, which means more acne fighting activity on your face!
- Take a zinc supplement. On your next physical you could ask your physician to run a panel to test your levels of zinc, but studies show that most of us don’t have enough so I recommend it. Refer to home remedy #3 above for more on this one.
- Eliminate carbohydrates and sugars as much as you can from your diet. This is a great lifestyle change for anyone because these are the really the two enemies of good health that we all eat too much of.
Bonus Tip: OK, so those were the 5 daily acne tips, but here’s a bonus tip. You need to keep your face moisturized because dry skin is actually not healthy skin. I recommend something like a coconut / tea tree oil blend because of the overall healthy benefits of both and the wonderful way it moisturizes your sensitive face, naturally. Just add 1/2 cup organic coconut oil and 1 tsp of organic tea tree oil to a warming dish; warm them in an old glass canning jar or something similar over a flameless candle warmer. Once the coconut oil has gotten warm enough to become liquid you can gently swirl the mixture and even use a plastic spoon to stir it well. This ensures that your mixture is well combined and you can then pour it into your favorite cream container. At night simply rub your clean finger tips over the oil and then onto your face, repeating as necessary for an amazingly soft face.
I care. A lot. That’s why when you take just a second to share something you’ve read here or a photo you liked, or when you leave just a brief comment below, it matters a lot. And it helps inspire and motivate other people.
It really is contagious… try it. 🙂
Thanks and best of luck. I hope that you’ve learned a few tricks to help you in your next pimple fight. And maybe even decided to make major lifestyle changes.
P.S. I’ve made a video overview of this article on how to get rid of pimples and you can watch it if you’re the type of reader who skipped straight to the bottom and wants a summary. LOL Either way, I’d appreciate it (a lot) if you’d share this article.
By the way… what’s your single best bit of acne fighting advice, if you were going to give a friend one single tip? What would it be? Let me know right here in the comments.