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Let’s face it. Deep, inflamed acne? It can straight up hurt. It’s hard to get rid of, and it looks and feels like your skin is angry.

Unfortunately, we can’t make the discomfort disappear in an instant. But we can share our tips to help soothe painful acne when it strikes.

If you’re dealing with those deep, red, uncomfortable pimples, here are a few things you can do to start to ease the pain.

5 ways to help soothe painful acne
1. Exfoliate

Inflamed pimples often occur in the deeper layers of the skin, below where whiteheads and blackheads usually form. This makes them extra challenging. As well as being uncomfortable, you can’t really get to them to treat them as easily. While exfoliating won’t solve the problem in an instant, it can help get rid of the dead skin and build up around the zit to help your skin start pushing all that nasty stuff toward the surface where it becomes easier to handle and treat.

We recommend looking for gentle exfoliating products designed for acne-prone skin. Look for something with salicylic acid in a non-drying formula as harsh products that over-dry your skin can actually cause more oil production, which may make matters worse instead of better. 

2. Leave it alone (so to speak)

While you can certainly try to treat your inflamed acne, it’s very important that you avoid picking or popping deep, inflamed pimples.

While you really shouldn’t pick at any zit, as tempting as it might be, it’s really important that you don’t try to pop or pick pimples beneath the skin – doing so is almost certain to spread infection and bacteria to other parts of your skin. And, since these pimples, in particular, affect deeper layers of your skin, it can be harder to treat a deeper down infection, leaving you with more of these hard-to-reach, painful pimples.

If stopping popping is a problem for you, one trick we love is using a hydrocolloid pimple patch to cover up the affected area. It helps shrink the zit by absorbing oil and makes it harder to pick, pop, or prod, so it’s a win-win.

3. Alternate heat and ice

Maybe you’ve heard of applying a towel with hot water to your skin. Maybe you’ve heard a cold compress. The correct answer for those deep, inflamed, cystic zits? Do both! Though not at the same time, of course.

In essence, applying a warm, wet compress to a zit helps open up the pores, allowing the skin to push the infected area closer to the surface where it can be treated and bad bacteria can be ejected. On the flip side, a cold compress closes pores, so it won’t help ultimately resolve the problem, but it can help shrink the appearance of the zit and relieve discomfort if it becomes unbearable. Both techniques have value depending on your needs at the moment, so we recommend including both in your arsenal!

4. Apply a DIY probiotic facemask

Probiotics can help make a difference for your skin as they introduce positive, acne-fighting bacteria to help your existing good bacteria do their job. It’s like sending in tiny reinforcements. You can, of course, purchase probiotics-based acne-fighting products (like ours!), but in a pinch, other great sources of probiotics include yogurt, kimchi, miso, and pickles. You can even apply yogurt to your skin in a soothing mask to directly deliver good bacteria to your skin.

For example, you could try out this soothing face mask from Beauty Tidbits:

1 tbsp colloidal (finely ground) oatmeal

1 tbsp Greek yogurt

1-2 tsp raw honey

Mix together, apply, and remove after 15-20 minutes!

Just make sure if you’re making your own skincare products that you’re always using top-of-the-line ingredients without any suspicious additives.

5. Level up your skincare routine

The science of skincare has been evolving rapidly in the past few years. Take advantage of new clinically-proven technologies that outperform standard over-the-counter products, like personalized and probiotics-based products. And make sure you’re not skipping key steps in your skincare routine like:

Using a gentle acne-fighting cleanser twice a day (morning and night)

Applying an oil-free moisturizer designed for sensitive skin at the end of your skincare routine (yes, even oily skin types should be using a moisturizer!)

Make sure you’re thoroughly removing any makeup or products at the end of every day before cleansing

Adding a skin-friendly probiotic to your diet to boost the good bacteria in your microbiome to help fight bad, acne-causing bacteria

Inflamed, painful acne sucks.

But you can get through it and heal your skin. Give these 5 tips a try, and you can help start healing your least favorite skin lesions today.


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