We’ve all been there: One day, your skin is perfectly clear—and the next morning you wake up with a small mountain brewing on your chin. You can’t pop it, and concealer just isn’t cutting it, so what exactly do you do?
We consulted Dendy Engelman, MD, of the Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in New York, on the fastest (and safest) ways to deflate that under the skin pimple.
First, apply a cold compress. Soak and wring a washcloth in cold water or wrap some ice cubes in one before applying it to the spot for ten minutes. “The cold can help decrease the inflammation,” she explains, which will make the spot a little less swollen.
Next, apply a treatment directly to the spot. Lay off that tube of maximum strength zit cream and reach for something a bit gentler instead. “Since this type of acne happens underneath the surface, using harsher products will just dry out the surrounding skin before it even gets to the cyst,” says Engelman. Seal everything in with a hydrating balm to “force the product in like a medical occlusion.” You should start to see the spot begin to deflate within a few days.
But if you really need help ASAP, ask your derm for a cortisone shot. This should be used only as a last resort (like before your wedding day or a huge work presentation) because there is potential for scarring. The magic of the shot, however, is that it reduces inflammation and swelling within hours so it’s pretty much gone by the next morning.
And finally, to prevent future zits, chill out a little. Though stress isn’t the only cause of cystic acne, it is one of the most common culprits. (It could also be a hormonal imbalance, which your OB-GYN can help determine.) “When you’re feeling stressed, your body responds by producing more cortisol, which then signals your body to produce more oil that gets stuck in your pores and entrapped with bacteria.”
So meditate, have a cleansing cry over the latest episode of This Is Us, do whatever it takes to get back on an even keel. Your skin (and the rest of your body) will thank you.