How to get rid of pimples fast

May 5th, 2020

“I don’t care how long it takes to get rid of my acne” – said no one ever!

You might not be leaving the house much at the moment, but it’s likely you still want to know how to get rid of pimples fast.

Dealing with pimples when self-isolating

We may have hit the snooze button on our social lives for a few months, but technology means we’re still ‘seeing’ a lot of each other.

Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp video chats and the many party apps keep us visually connected.

With more time on your hands (for some people), it’s a great opportunity to get on top of things or look at switching things up.

We’re not talking about Kondo-ing every cupboard or dyeing our hair blue, but simply checking that your skin care routine and acne treatment are playing nicely together to get rid of pimples as quickly as possible.

So, when you do emerge into the real world, you may be looking and feeling a lot better, especially as acne can have a real impact on your self-esteem.

Melbourne dermatologist and All About Acne member, Dr Mei Tam said acne is one of the most common skin conditions but it can make some people feel very alone.

“A person’s self-confidence can be one of the first casualties of acne,” she said.

“Even during self-isolation, staying in contact with people who have our best interests at heart, including healthcare professionals, can be really helpful if you’re feeling a bit anxious or unsure of things.”

Do the things that make you feel better and if taking control of acne is one of them, here are a few tips from the experts which may just help you get rid of pimples as fast as possible.

A quick fix for acne

There's no quick fix for acne but seeing a healthcare professional will help

It may be what everyone with acne wants but the acne quick fix isn’t so simple.

Exactly how long it’s going to take for those spots to disappear depends on the type of acne you’ve got as well as how you’re managing it.

In mild cases that can mean a week, but if you have severe or cystic acne, it can take a few months.

But don’t despair!

“The upside is with the right treatment you’ll see encouraging results along the way,” says Dr Tam.

Is your skin care routine acne friendly?

Regardless of what type of acne you have, the right skin care routine can make a huge difference and if you have mild acne, it may be all you need.

“A good acne skin care routine is one that you’ll stick to and that’s usually a simple one – cleanse, treat, protect,” said Dr Tam.

There’s no shortage of skin care products which can make finding a suitable one for acne prone skin a bit daunting so enlist some expert help.

Your local pharmacist is a good starting point and pharmacies are still open!

“Using the wrong skin care products can make your acne worse and take longer to get rid of pimples, regardless of the price tag.  A high price tag does not equate to better results,” explained Dr Tam.

Some of the best skin care products are the least expensive.

Look for the words ‘non-comedogenic’ which means it won’t block pores, ‘non-acnegenic’ or ‘oil free’.

Cleansers containing salicylic acid can also be helpful and possibly all you need if you have mild acne. Just remember to tell your pharmacist or doctor before combining this with any other acne medication.

Attacking different causes of acne

There are many causes of acne and different treatments target each of these causes.

Bacteria, oil, clogged pores, hormones and inflammation are all potential causes of acne.  Different treatments target each of these causes.

There are also fixed combination products which combine two ingredients into one product making them even more effective.

A new treatment that combines the clindamycin (antibiotic) with tretinoin (retinoid) is now available in Australia.

“The good news for people with acne is that there are many treatments so there’s every reason to stay positive about finding a treatment that will work for you,” says Dr Tam.

“Speak to a healthcare professional to get a tailored approach for treating your acne. This will ensure that you’re receiving the most appropriate treatment for the fastest response time. They will give you many tips to get the most out of your treatment.”

This may mean lip balms for treatments that cause dry lips, sunscreen for treatments that make your skin more sun sensitive as well as critical advice such as taking contraception when on specific acne treatments.

Some acne treatments make your skin more sun sensitive so use sun protection

Give acne treatment at least four weeks to work

Have you given your treatment time to work or have you tried three treatments in three weeks?

Whether it’s an over-the-counter treatment from pharmacy or a prescription treatment from your doctor, it’s important to stick with your treatment and give it enough time to do its job.

“That doesn’t mean putting up with nasty side effects. If that happens, talk to your doctor who can adjust the dose or change your treatment,” explains Dr Tam.

“Acne affects each person differently and treatment responses will also vary.  A friend may have seen improvements with their acne within three weeks while you’ve seen nothing, but don’t give up.”

“Generally, you should notice improvements within four to six weeks with most treatments but allow up to 12 weeks for the treatment to work more thoroughly.”

“If nothing has changed by six weeks, it’s probably time to adjust the treatment by increasing the potency of creams or dosages, adding another treatment or changing treatment all together. Your healthcare professional will help you make these changes after discussion.”

For any acne treatment to work you need to use it as advised.  More is not better and it can aggravate the acne rather than improve it which means taking longer for pimples to disappear.

Stepping out

Get acne advice from the experts so you're ready to step out with great looking skin

Reviewing your skin care products and routine, checking you’ve got the right acne treatment and getting advice from the experts while you’re bunkered down will help you get rid of pimples as fast as possible.

Just something else to feel better about when you can finally step out for more than a quick grocery shop!

About Dr Tam
Dr Mei Tam

Dr Tam works as a consultant dermatologist at St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne and the Skin Health Institute. She also runs a private general dermatology practice in Melbourne.  Dr Tam has been a Fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists since 1998.