Even with the best daily regimen and healthiest diet, the random pimple can sprout up and blemish your otherwise clear skin. Thankfully, there are a wide range of spot treatments that can help you tackle the stray zit and keep you and your skin looking and feeling great.1 Here are four of the best over-the-counter acne spot treatments for your skin.
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1. YourGoodSkin Blemish Clearing Rapid Rescue Treatment
Comprising a gel that is easy to apply, YourGoodSkin Blemish Clearing Rapid Rescue Treatment uses 2% salicylic acid as its main active ingredient. Salicylic acid works in several ways to soothe and reduce acne breakouts. It possesses anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, allowing it to reduce inflammation while eliminating P. acnes and other bacteria that can contribute to breakouts. Salicylic acid also acts as a natural peeling agent, which allows for more efficient sloughing of dead skin and debris that may clog pores.2 However, as with many acne treatments, it does have the potential to cause irritation. Furthermore, salicylic acid should not be used by pregnant women.
Along with salicylic acid, the YourGoodSkin Blemish Clearing Rapid Rescue Treatment features green tea extract. Green tea extract contains polyphenols, which are active compounds known to possess powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Green tea extract may also help to regulate inflammation. Lower inflammation can help reduce pore size. Meta-studies also show that topical application of polyphenols from green tea may help to better regulate sebum production.3
This spot treatment also contains licorice root extract, which may help to reduce redness and control any potential irritation from other active ingredients. Licorice gel has also shown promise as a potential treatment for atopic dermatitis.4
To use the YourGoodSkin Blemish Clearing Rapid Rescue Treatment, apply the gel in a thin layer to the affected area once or twice a day, followed by a moisturizer and sunscreen.
2. Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatment
The active ingredient in Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatment is benzoyl peroxide, which is one of the most common acne treatments found in numerous other products. Benzoyl peroxide is an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial ingredient that specifically targets P. acnes on the skin and within hair follicles. It may also have a mild effect on sebum production and skin shedding.5
Use benzoyl peroxide with care. It can be irritating, more so than even salicylic acid. Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatment can be beneficial in that it uses a 2.5% concentration. Concentrations of benzoyl peroxide can go up to 10%, but studies show that 2.5% concentrations are as effective as or more effective than higher concentrations while presenting significantly fewer instances of irritation (comprising burning, redness, dryness, and peeling).6
Benzoyl peroxide can bleach clothes and fabrics, and it may not be safe for those who are pregnant.
Similar to other treatments, apply benzoyl peroxide in a thin layer to affected areas once or twice per day. Use a moisturizer to minimize irritation. Apply a sunscreen as benzoyl peroxide can increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.
3. DrFormulas Retinol 2.5%
Retinol is a powerful ingredient that was once only available via prescription. Topical retinol has natural anti-inflammatory properties, but it is also comedolytic, meaning it actively inhibits acne formation, and may help to reduce visible acne lesions.7 Topical retinoids can come with irritation, including peeling, redness, and dryness. Retinol can also increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight and UV rays. This can result in inflammation, which can further contribute to acne, but it may also make you more susceptible to skin cancer.
Due to how retinol can affect your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, it’s recommended to be applied only at night to avoid direct sun exposure. Follow this up with moisturizer to reduce symptoms of irritation.
4. DrFormulas Pimple Patch
These hydrocolloid patches work in several ways to reduce existing acne lesions. When applied, the patches can:
- Reduce inflammation and eliminate bacteria
- Soak up fluid from acne cysts
- Keep the area moisturized
- Protect existing breakouts from sun exposure and your own fingers
In a small study of just 20 participants with mild to moderate acne, researchers determined that using acne dressings could reduce the acne severity and inflammation. Subjects using the branded acne patches also experienced improvements in redness, oiliness, pigmentation, and sebum production compared to the control group.8 A larger study is necessary to determine the exact effectiveness of acne patches, but initial research is promising.
Apply a patch directly onto clean, dry skin. Leave the patch on overnight and remove in the morning.
Spot treatments can help to reduce sudden breakouts and cysts, but make sure you maintain a regular skin care regimen and a healthy diet to keep your acne under control.
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