This is a method you can use if you want to do everything you possibly can to prevent a zit from forming. It is important that you catch the pimple early, in its initial stages. Once a pimple is full-blown, this method may help it heal a bit faster, but there will not be much you can do at that point.
Zinc helps heal wounds, is an antioxidant, and acts as an anti-inflammatory.1-2 It has been shown in several studies to help heal acne.3-5 Be sure to check the label of your zinc bottle to be certain the zinc you are taking is zinc gluconate. While evidence is still not concrete, zinc gluconate may be superior to other varieties of zinc.
Note: NSAIDs are not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before taking NSAIDs.
Ibuprofen is an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory). Other NSAIDs you can use are Naproxen (AKA Naproxen Sodium) or aspirin. NSAIDs reduce swelling and have the added benefit of reducing any pain the zit is producing. NSAIDs are designed for occasional use. Do not take NSAIDs every day on an ongoing basis for acne.
Ice is a powerful anti-inflammatory that you can use to directly target inflammation. Put an ice cube in a Ziploc® bag for an easy and mess proof way of applying ice. Very gently hold the ice over the site of the zit until the area goes numb. Since the skin of the face is so thin, you only need to apply ice for 5 minutes. Be absolutely certain not to press too hard. Anything which rubs against the skin can cause irritation, and irritation can make the zit worse, so just sit the ice gently on the skin.
Applying ice twice per day will help quite a bit. However, you may apply ice up to once per hour.
The combination of 2.5% benzoyl peroxide and 10% glycolic acid can often halt a zit in its tracks all on its own. When combined with the above steps, it is even more effective. Benzoyl peroxide reduces inflammation, dries and peels, and kills acne bacteria. Glycolic acid exfoliates and signals the skin below to quicken cell turnover which can help a pimple heal more quickly. Very gently apply a small amount of 2.5% benzoyl peroxide to the zit until it is more-or-less absorbed. Wait 5 minutes for it to dry completely and then apply a small amount of 10% glycolic acid in the same manner—very gently until it is more-or-less absorbed.
Apply 2.5% benzoyl peroxide + 10% glycolic acid no more than twice per day unless you have particularly tough skin. Most people will experience too much dryness and irritation if applying 3 or more times per day.
There are also other things you can do which might help. Omega-3 fats, such as those found in wild (not farmed) fish or Omega-3 fish oil supplements may help reduce inflammation. There is still not enough research to know whether vegetarian sources of Omega-3 like flax or flax seed oil have the same effect. Also, getting 8-10 hours of sleep will help the body heal faster.
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