07/19/2024

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You know those dreaded subcutaneous papules that take forever to heal? Usually our plan of attack consists of applying the largest strength acne ointment we have and obsessively monitoring it for days. However, this doesn’t seem to help and only dries out the skin at the top of the site (causing more stinging).

So, after our last big breakout, we finally sought help, and Dendy Engelman, MD, of Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in New York, shares a tip we now want to shout from the rooftops.

What you need.
Your preferred acne spot treatment and a thick lip balm or ointment (like Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Skin Cream or even the good ol’ Aquaphor).

What you do.
After washing your face, apply the treatment directly to the pimple as you always do. Then seal with a thin layer of lip balm. Repeat this daily until the spot fades (which, in our experience, usually happens within a few days).

Why it works.
Instead of just putting the treatment on the surface of your skin (exposed to air and bacteria), the balm on top acts like a medical occlusive, essentially forcing the active ingredients to penetrate, making it more effective. It also keeps the skin around the site hydrated, so you don’t get the dry patches mentioned above.

Can pimple patches help treat cystic acne?
They are actually very effective because they have similar functions (i.e., creating a barrier so the ingredients can be better absorbed and – perhaps just as important – so you can remove your hands from the site). We were recently impressed by these patches from ZitSticka, which feature tiny microneedles filled with salicylic acid, niacinamide, oligopeptide 76 and hyaluronic acid that dissolve into your skin to reduce swelling while hydrating the surrounding area. All you have to do is stick one on the budding lump and remove it after a few hours (although we tend to leave them on overnight).

Ok, now advertise good skin karma.

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