Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 10.57.35 AMWhen it comes to acne, cold beats hot.

Hot: The power of heat at this time is limited in acne care. Lasers and radio frequency devices use targeted heat to kill bacteria in the skin, which can improve acne, but only to a moderate degree and for a high cost. For these reasons, I don’t advocate for these methods, especially lasers. I am intrigued by radio frequency devices and will keep my eye on them as more research comes out, but so far I don’t see much good science when it comes to radio frequency and acne. Spot treatment devices which claim to use heat to stop a pimple from forming tend to disappoint in both their efficacy and cost as well.

Cold: Cold on the other hand, has a long standing history of helping to treat acne. According to a review article published in Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology, “Cold is…a useful treatment modality. In dermatological care, cold is often used for angioedema (under the skin swelling)…” We can see the power of ice in spot treatment. If you feel a zit forming, put a piece of ice in a Ziploc bag and hold it very gently on the spot for 5 minutes. This simple treatment can work wonders, especially when combined with proper topical treatment and anti-inflammatory agents. While less convenient, ice can also be used all over the face. If you’d like to try it, simply fill up a styrofoam cup with water and freeze it. Then peel back the styrofoam and VERY GENTLY move the ice over your entire face. This can get messy but can be fun from time to time. Just be certain to remain ultra gentle to reduce any unwanted irritation.

Cold can help, but there is no substitute for properly treating your skin. First, get on The Regimen and get cleared up. Then, feel free to use ice on occasion when you need it for spot treatment or when you just feel like adding in something for a change of pace.

References:

  • Bayata S, Turel EA. “Thermotherapy in dermatology.” Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology. 2012; 31(3): 235-40.