This question comes up so frequently.
Here's what to do when you've messed with a pimple and it looks horribly swollen, red and painful now.
Keep in mind that the treatment may also prevent an incipient cyst from getting worse.
The treatment may also help prevent Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) or red marks.
You can repeat these techniques for as many days as you like. Do not give up too early, try the icing and bandaid/ointment for at least a week before assuming it won't work.
Detailed explanation and rationale:
Wrap an ice cube in a thin cloth towel or paper towel so the ice doesn't directly touch your skin or just stick it in a plastic baggie. Some recommend freezing a bunch of water-filled little paper Dixie cups in the freezer. The thin paper cups make it convenient to hold and apply ice to the lesions. That's a great idea from Laura, the esthetician that Willow569 goes to.
Hold the ice to the lesion for one minute or so on, five minutes or so off. Repeat as often as necessary throughout the first 24 hours, but not to the point that your skin turns pale or feels uncomfortable. The ice will reduce the swelling and the pain and the redness. The ice may also limit the development of post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation, PIH, or â€˜red marksâ€™.
You could also just glide an ice cube gently over your whole face, not holding it in one spot for too long. This technique will help decrease inflammation over the entire surface of your face. This is also a good technique for use after cleansing and prior to applying your active, medicated topical.
Ibuprofen and naproxen sodium are anti-inflammatories. Inflammation is redness, swelling, pain. One or the other medication will help reduce the inflammation of any type of infection and may also help with pain. Use only as directed on the package, pick one or the other, and donâ€™t use for longer than directed. Of course, don't use one if you're allergic to it! Depending on where you live there may be other anti-inflammatories available as well; ask your pharmacist or chemist what you can take as an anti-inflammatory. Over the counter medications for arthritis are generally effective.
If your doctor has ordered an antibiotic due to the inflamed lesion(s), continue to take the antibiotic as ordered. You may still take an anti-inflammatory for pain and swelling. The antibiotic is for the infection (bacteria) and the anti-inflammatory is for the pain, redness, and swelling.
Topical antibiotic cream/ointment and band aid/plaster how-to:
(Polysporin, Neosporin, Bacitracin, etc. I use Polysporin more often. Some may be allergic to Neosporin, sometimes Bacitracin, less rarely to Polysporin)
Apply a dab of antibiotic cream/ointment to a small band aid (this prevents contamination of the tube provided the bandaid is sterile and you've not touched the pad part with your fingers or anything else).
Put the band aid/plaster on the lesion. Leave on overnight. This is the part of the step that helps prevent PIH; the petrolatum jelly in most antibiotic ointments/creams is what provides the soothing relief that irritated, inflamed skin needs. You CAN use plain petrolatum jelly. It is not comedogenic. The bandaid also helps keep you from picking so you can use it during the day if you're going to be at home or not much in public, unless of course your self-esteem is high enough so that you can go in public with bandaids/plasters all over your face.
The antibiotic cream/ointment may help prevent indented scarring.
There you go. Good luck!