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THE HOME REMEDY: ASPIRIN

THE REALITY: Since generic aspirin contains salicylic acid, a prime ingredient in many acne mediations, crushing a tablet with a few drops of water to form a paste and dotting it on a zit might help heal it, according to Leslie Baumann, director of cosmetic dermatology at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami. "It could penetrate to the oil in the pore, helping it exfoliate and employing anti-inflammatory properties," she says. But the pros caution against it for those with sensitive skin, since "aspirin has very high levels of salicylic acid, so it can be irritating," says Katie Rodan, adjunct clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

THE HOME REMEDY: WHITE TOOTHPASTE

THE REALITY: "Toothpaste used to contain zinc, which decreases inflammation, so it was often used to shrink pimples," Baumann says. "Current toothpastes don't have zinc, so they don't work." Driving this particular home-remedy rumor may be the fact that toothpaste "can act as a desiccant to dry up the skin," says Heidi A. Waldorf, director of laser and cosmetic dermatology and associate clinical professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The problem is that we tend to think all there is to a pimple is excess oil-- that if we somehow sop it up, the zit's gone-- but oil is only part of the story: There's also redness and inflammation to contend with. In this regard, today's toothpaste is actually a saboteur, as the fluoride that's virtually all formulas can make acne worse by irritating the skin.

THE HOME REMEDY: LEMON JUICE

THE REALITY: A squeeze can help dehydrate the skin, but experts don't recommend it. "It'll probably sting and irritate without much benefit," says Waldorf, who also advises against using the fruit for its other common beauty purposes, like bleaching freckles and lightening the hair. "It won't work. Lemon juice can lighten your hair in the sun, but it can also cause irritation, hyperpigmentation, or dark blotches if you get it on your skin. You're better off just coloring your hair."

THE HOME REMEDY: BAKING SODA

THE REALITY: A paste made from baking soda and water is alkaline, meaning it neutralizes acids, "so it might feel soothing-- but it's not going to have any effect on your acne," says David J. Leffell, professor of dermatology and surgery at Yale University School of Medicine. It does have two beneficial uses: as a facial exfoliator or toothpaste. "Some people are prone to perioral dermatitis-- skin irritation or pimples around the mouth-- usually caused by sloppy brushing with fluoride toothpaste," Rodan says. "Baking soda is great for most people because it's very mild."

THE HOME REMEDY: VISINE

THE REALITY: This eyedrop's tagline "Gets the red out!" also applies to pimples. "It's a temporary vasoconstrictor, so it shrinks blood vessels and makes the pimple look less inflamed," Rodan says. "A great three-step approach to a zit is to apply an ice pack, which will enhance penetration; put a few drops of Visine on the spot; then apply an acne medication with benzoyl peroxide."

THE HOME REMEDY: ANTI-WART DROPS

THE REALITY: Although wart treatments often contain salicylic acid, the concentrations are much higher than in acne treatments-- 17 percent salicylic acid for warts versus just 1 to 2 percent for zits-- and this is a case when more isn't better. "Using wart medications on pimples can result in a really bad burn and even scarring," Rodan says.

THE HOME REMEDY: GLUE

THE REALITY: Painting flue over blackheads, waiting for it to dry, and then peeling it off is a do-it-yourself version of a Biore strip-- sounds logical, but it's frowned upon by dermatologists. "Don't try it," Waldorf says. "You can rip off pieces of skin and end up with irritant dermatitis-- itchy redness similar to a bad reaction to a bikini wax-- or even wind up with an adhensive burn, which involves painful skin peeling." Even if you perform this glue-peel without injury, "all you're going to pull out is oil, not the blackhead itself," Rodan says.

THE HOME REMEDY: MILK

THE REALITY: Soaking in a cool bath with a few cups of powdered milk or applying a milk-soaked washcloth as a compress can soothe irritated or sunburned skin, thanks to the milk's proteins and fats. But it's not fully effective as a standalone treatment: "It evaporates, and so it will dry the skin if your don't moisturize afterwards," Baumann says.

THE HOME REMEDY: ALOE

THE REALITY: Snapping off the tip of a leaf and applying the ooze to tight, red skin has a pleasant earthy resourcefulness-- and it does act as a calming salve. That is, unless you're sensitive to aloe. "There are people who swear by aloe's soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, but it can also cause irritant dermatitis," Waldorf says. "I'd reach for a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream instead."

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Neat post! Thanks! I agree with everything there except the last - I'd reach for aloe over cortisone. Cortisone can thin the skin and cause more pimples over time. Aloe seems safer.

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^ Agree fully. Stay away from cortisone. It's also absorbed systemically and can lead to hormonal problems due to the steroid absorption and more severe acne, as Ayla says.

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