What effective anti-pimple ingredients and creams?

Pimples or acne-prone skin ? Before using an “anti-pimple” treatment, it is essential to know what type of pimple you have.

What type of pimples do you have?

  • Blackheads, also called open comedo

These are pores clogged by excessive secretion of sebum and dead cells which accumulate and oxidize on contact with air, giving a black color to the surface of the pimple. They are not covered by the skin, allowing oxidation and are found on all skin types, from oily to dry.

Hormonal fluctuations, particularly during puberty, pregnancy, or due to certain medications, can increase sebum production, thus promoting the formation of blackheads.

  • White dots

A whitehead is a closed comedo that has not opened outward. The skin covers the bump, giving it a whitish appearance. This is also called a whitehead. Squeezing a whitehead does not empty its contents, and it may feel firmer to the touch than a blackhead.

  • Nodules

A nodule is a form of deep, severe skin lesion often associated with nodular or cystic acne. It appears as a large lump under the skin, usually several millimeters in diameter, and is distinguished by its firm consistency. Unlike superficial pimples such as blackheads or whiteheads, nodules are much deeper and are not found on the surface of the skin. They are painful to the touch and can persist for weeks or even months. Because of their depth and intense inflammation, nodules can leave scars when they heal. Treating nodules may require more extensive medical interventions, such as prescription medications or specific therapies administered by a dermatologist.

  • Pustules

A pustule is a type of pimple characterized by a visible rise in skin containing pus. It usually forms as a result of blocked and inflamed pores , often linked to conditions such as acne. Pustules are typically round and have a whitish or yellowish center surrounded by reddish skin, reflecting an underlying infection. They can appear on any part of the body but are commonly seen on the face, back and shoulders. Pustules are usually tender to the touch and may be painful. Their treatment may include proper skin hygiene, use of topical anti-inflammatory or antibacterial products, and sometimes prescription medications to control inflammation and prevent infections. It is important not to puncture or squeeze the pustules to prevent the infection from spreading and scarring.

  • Cysts

A cyst is a deeper, more serious skin lesion that forms when hair follicles or oil glands become clogged with sebum, skin cells, and other debris. Unlike other types of pimples, cysts are swollen, pus-filled lesions that form deep under the skin. They are often larger, more painful, and more difficult to treat than other types of pimples. Cysts can leave scars when they heal, especially if handled incorrectly. Treatment for cysts may require prescription medications, corticosteroid injections, or in some cases surgery to drain the infected fluid. It is important not to try to puncture or extract a cyst yourself, as this can make the infection worse and increase the risk of scarring.

  • Papules

A papule is an inflammatory skin lesion characterized by a small red or pink bump on the skin. It forms when skin pores become clogged with dead skin cells, sebum and possibly bacteria, leading to an inflammatory reaction. Unlike pustules, papules do not contain pus and are not filled with fluid. They are usually tender to the touch and can be painful, but they do not have a visible white or yellowish spot on their surface. Treatment for papules may include the use of topical anti-inflammatory products, regular skin cleansings, and in some cases prescription medications to reduce inflammation and prevent further damage.

What ingredients to treat pimples?

Different types of pimples require different approaches in terms of topical treatment. Here is a list of ingredients commonly used in skin care products to target each specific type of pimple:

For blackheads and whiteheads (Comedones):

  • Salicylic acid : Magical ingredient! It exfoliates dead skin cells and dissolves oil, helping to unclog pores.
  • Retinoids (Vitamin A) : Accelerate cell renewal and prevent clogged pores.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide : Kills acne-causing bacteria and helps remove excess oil .

For papules and pustules:

  • Benzoyl Peroxide : Fights acne-causing bacteria and reduces inflammation.
  • Azelaic Acid : Reduces the growth of acne-causing bacteria and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Salicylic Acid : Helps exfoliate skin and unclog pores.
  • Retinoids (Vitamin A) : Reduce inflammation and promote cell renewal.

For nodules and cysts:

  • Retinoids (Vitamin A) : Reduce inflammation, promote cell renewal and help prevent new lesions from forming.
  • Corticosteroid injections : Used to quickly reduce inflammation and pain associated with nodules and cysts.
  • Azelaic Acid : May be used to reduce inflammation and prevent the growth of acne-causing bacteria.

General anti-acne ingredients:

  • Hyaluronic Acid : Hydrates the skin without clogging pores.
  • Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) : Reduces inflammation and hyperpigmentation while strengthening the skin barrier.
  • Green Tea Extract : Has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and helps control sebum production.

What morning and evening routine to treat pimples?

Establishing an effective skin care routine can help treat breakouts and prevent future breakouts. Here is what we recommend for treating pimples:

The morning :

  1. Gentle cleansing : Start by cleansing your face with a gentle cleanser suitable for your skin type. Avoid harsh cleansers that could irritate the skin. A treatment based on salicylic acid can treat most of your imperfections.

  2. Toner (Tonic Lotion) : Apply a gentle alcohol-free toner to rebalance the skin's pH and remove cleanser residue.

  3. Targeted treatment : Apply a pimple-specific treatment, such as a concentrated moisturizer or serum containing ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, to the affected areas.

  4. Light Moisturizer : Use a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer to maintain skin hydration without clogging pores.

  5. Sun protection : Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to protect your skin from damage caused by UV rays.

The evening :

  1. Double Cleanse (Optional) : If you wear makeup or sunscreen, start with an oil-based cleanser to remove impurities , followed by a gentle cleanser to remove oil residue.

  2. Exfoliation (1-2 times per week) : Use a gentle exfoliant once or twice per week to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. Avoid abrasive exfoliants that could irritate the skin.

  3. Toner : Reapply a gentle toner to rebalance the skin after cleansing and exfoliation.

  4. Targeted treatment : Reapply your specific pimple treatment to the affected areas.

  5. Moisturizer : Use a moisturizer appropriate for your skin type to maintain hydration overnight.

  6. Spot Treatment (Optional) : For particularly stubborn spots, you can apply a spot treatment containing active ingredients directly to the blemish before applying your moisturizer.

Additional Tips:

  • Do not touch pimples : Avoid touching or squeezing pimples to avoid the spread of bacteria and the risk of scarring.
  • Eat a healthy diet : A balanced, nutrient-rich diet can contribute to skin health.
  • Drink enough water : Hydration plays a crucial role in skin health, so make sure you drink enough water throughout the day.
  • Consult a dermatologist : If your pimples persist despite a regular skin care routine, consult a dermatologist for personalized treatment.

By following a regular skincare routine and adopting healthy lifestyle habits, you can help reduce breakouts and achieve clearer, healthier skin.


NIH News in Health. Understanding Acne

NewsMedical. Types of Spots, Pimples by Dr. Liji Thomas