Pimples occur when bacteria flourish in the pores of your skin, creating inflammation. The smaller variety happens close to the surface of your skin and forms a whitehead that disappears within a few days. Deeper acne nodules and cysts don't form a head, but cause redness, swelling and pain. How you reduce the size of a pimple depends on which kind of blemish you have.

Drying a Deeper Pimple

Wash as usual in the evening and blot your skin dry, skipping any moisturizer or toner that you might typically apply after washing.

Squeeze a small amount of toothpaste or drying ointment containing benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol or salicylic acid onto a square of facial tissue. Pimple creams and toothpaste both dry the skin above the pimple, reducing swelling in the area.

Dab the unpopped pimple with the pimple cream or toothpaste. Apply the paste directly from the tissue to the pimple instead of using your fingertips to dot it onto your skin. Try to confine the drying agent to the pimple itself while avoiding the surrounding skin.

Leave the paste undisturbed overnight. If you have long hair, you may want to pull it back as you sleep to keep it from getting into the pimple treatment.

Treating Deep Pimples and Cysts

Apply cold compresses -- ice wrapped in tissue or clean cloth -- to the affected area to reduce pain and swelling. Hold the wrapped ice to your skin for a minute or less, then give your skin a few minutes to return to normal temperature.

Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication if you tolerate them well. Anti-inflammatory medications will remove some of the pain and redness at the site of the nodule until you can see a doctor.

Call a dermatologist and ask about emergency pimple reduction. A doctor can inject cortisone at the site of the inflammation, eradicating the pimple within hours.


Dust, hormones, stress and scrubbing skin too hard can exacerbate acne; you can reduce three out of the four, so take preventive measures to forestall future pimple emergencies.


Reserve trips to the dermatologist for cortisone injections for emergencies. Cortisone can cause temporary atrophy of the fatty tissues near the injection site, leaving a small depression in your skin. Avoid touching your face with your hands too frequently. Hands pick up bacteria that can infect your skin, so keeping your hands away from your face will help ensure clearer skin.