Waking up with a zit any day is boring, but if you have a commitment you want to look your best for, an uninvited breakout can send you into a tailspin. If you’re dealing with pimples in the registry, you probably know how frustrating it can be to figure out how to treat acne.
Besides the thousands of anti-acne products on the shelves (uh, products that claim to banish pimples, at least), there are also plenty of home remedies circulating on the internet. You know, the old wives’ tales of the beauty world. One of those urban legends about acne is that putting ice on acne can help clear up unwanted spots. But, uh, could it really be true that the pimple-busting solution has been in your freezer — costing zero dollars — all along? The bustle used board-certified dermatologists Dr. Jenny Liu, MDand Dr. Ryan Turner, MD, to find out if ice can be used to treat acne. Scroll for intel expert.
Does Ice Help Acne Go Away?
Here’s the deal: both dermatologists agree that, in a pinch, ice can be effective for reduce pain, swelling and redness associated with inflammatory acne. Exciting things. That said, think of it as a band-aid rather than a one-off treatment that will keep pimples at bay for good. “Ice does nothing to help treat the root cause of acne,” Liu says. This therefore means that ice will not help unclog pores, eliminate acne-causing bacteria, or reduce and control oil production in the skin.
It should also be noted that ice will have no effect on breakouts that are not inflammatory in nature, i.e. blackheads, whiteheads and severe cystic acne, which could be caused by hormonal changes. For the latter variation, Turner notes that ice can, however, help relieve discomfort caused by cystic acne, which is often painful to the touch. Basically, if you’re looking for relief from a red, swollen or painful pimple, then go hit your freezer if you want – but know that you’re not really”treat ” your acne or keep it from coming back. Shame.
How to Use Ice on Acne
If you’re going for ice cream to help ease the pain of acne and reduce the size and redness of a pimple, you’ve got Liu’s stamp of approval. However, for a more effective solution, Liu recommends pairing the home remedy with appropriate, proven acne treatments, such as topical benzoyl peroxide, a salicylic acid spot treatment, or an acne patch. And a pro tip: “It is very important to apply ice at short intervals [on the skin] to prevent frostbite,” warns Turner, who says you should use something like a thin washcloth as a barrier between your skin and the ice. Liu agrees that you have to be very careful with very cold temperatures on your skin, as it can damage the skin barrier; it’s even more likely if your skin is sensitive, BTW.
TL; DR? If used carefully, acne ice cream can be a “quick, temporary trick” to soothe irritating pimples, “but that’s about it,” Liu says.
Dr. Jenny Liu, MDMinneapolis board certified dermatologist
Dr. Ryan Turner, MDboard-certified dermatologist based in New York