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How to Get Rid of a Zit Overnight, According to Dermatologists

Zit-nixing tips and tricks that the pros swear by.

<p>Reezky Pradata/Getty Images</p>

Reezky Pradata/Getty Images

You wake up and groggily make your way to the bathroom sink to prep for the day, and staring back at you in the mirror is a pimple that had absolutely no business showing up today. Maybe it’s a mundane weekday and you just can’t be bothered, or perhaps you’ve got a big day coming up, like a first date, office presentation, or (heaven forbid) your wedding day. What’s a person to do when they need a zit to go away stat?

While it’s nearly impossible to make a pimple disappear completely overnight, you can get pretty close. We asked a handful of board-certified dermatologists to share their best tips.

1. Try a Warm Compress

Before freaking out, start with the easiest and cheapest hack in the book: a warm compress. Warm compresses are great for most pimples since they help open up the pore so it can drain while reducing inflammation. Best of all, it requires zero physical manipulation (like popping the pimple) which can make things worse.

“Never underestimate the power of a warm compress—it can alleviate so many issues,” says Gabriela Soza, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology in New York City. “Warm compresses calm inflammation can decrease the size and visibility of the zit, minimize discomfort, and can bring a whitehead to the surface to relieve the pressure and pain.”

2. Apply a Hydrocolloid Sticker

If you’ve yet to try a hydrocolloid sticker to remove a pimple, you’re in for a very satisfying treat. “ Apply the acne patch during the daytime on clean skin,” Soza advises. “This patch serves two purposes. First, it keeps your hands away from the zit (my favorite purpose) and second, it can help to draw out fluid and improve healing time.”

Plus, these thin hydrocolloid spot stickers are hardly noticeable, so you can wear them throughout the day. (However, we do recommend changing them out every few hours if it’s accumulating pus, since this can be visible.) Dr. Soza’s favorite is the Neutrogena Stubborn Acne Ultra-Thin Blemish Patches ($7.50, Amazon).

3. Use a Spot Treatment

Target your pimple directly with an aggressive spot treatment. “One of my go-to recommendations for a spot treatment to help clear a pimple faster is benzoyl peroxide,” says board-certified dermatologist Andrea Suarez, MD, FAAD. “While this over-the-counter medication works best when applied to the entire face, to both treat active breakouts and prevent breakouts in the future, it also works fairly quickly to help a pimple go away a bit faster.”

Some additional spot treatments ingredients to look for include adapalene and sulfur. Try Differin Gel ($13.75, Amazon), Mario Badescu Drying Lotion ($18, Sephora), and Proactiv Emergency Blemish Relief ($22, Proactiv).

4. Leverage Red & Blue Light Therapy

Light therapy may sound a bit out there, but it’s another effective way to quickly nix your zit. “Red light can help calm down the inflammation, and blue light can help combat the bacteria that causes the acne,” explains David Kim, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist at IDRISS Dermatology in New York City. He says to consider this a helpful supplement to everything else you’re doing versus the sole treatment.

5. See Your Derm for a Kenalog Injection

In dire situations where you really need that zit to go away within 24 hours, a kenalog injection provided by your dermatologist or doctor can be extremely effective. Dr. Kim says, “It's a steroid (kenalog) injection that can calm down the inflammation immediately. It's very reliable.” The practitioner will clean the area first, then administer the injection. You may feel a light sting, but the relief and results will come quickly.

6. Consider Laser Treatments

If you’re not a fan of lasers or your doctor can’t squeeze you in for a steroid injection to treat your pimple, Dr. Soza says that a laser treatment may help. “Lasers by themselves can also help calm down the inflammation and redness,” she explains. She adds that combining this with a topical spot treatment of a trichloroacetic acid peel (TCA) can be very effective.

3 Things You Should Never Do

Following all the above advice is your best bet for removing a pimple overnight. While you’re at it, make sure to steer clear of the following.

  • Don’t Pop or Squeeze the Pimple: “Try your absolute hardest not to pop the pimple. “We are all guilty of it, but really, it can introduce bacteria, lead to further inflammation, prolong healing time, and increase scarring,” says Dr. Soza.

  • Don't Keep Touching It: In addition to not outright popping your pimple, do your best to keep your hands away from your face. You may be tempted to touch it or feel it, but this can introduce more bacteria or cause more redness and irritation, making it more pronounced.

  • Don’t Panic: The reality is that a pimple is just a pimple, and everyone gets them. Even on important days! You can cover them with makeup pretty easily and even edit them out of pictures in a matter of seconds. 

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