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- MedlinePlus: Facial Swelling
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: Acne
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How to Reduce Swelling in a Popped Pimple
If you're dealing with a freshly popped pimple, you'll probably notice swelling in the area. Swelling occurs whenever tissues become inflamed. As cells sustain damage, your body's defense mechanism speeds white blood cells to the area to begin healing. Those healing cells require fluid to travel, so injuries, including popped pimples, swell.
Wrap an ice cube in paper towels or a clean, soft cloth. If you're sensitive to cold, double-wrap the cube.
Press the wrapped ice cube against the site of the popped pimple for 30 to 45 seconds. Apply light pressure to encourage fluid to drain from swollen tissues. Remove the ice before the 30-second mark if you feel uncomfortable.
Remove the cold pack and wait at least five minutes before reapplying it. Your goal is to cool the skin, not freeze it, which can create more redness over time.
Repeat the process until the swelling goes down or the ice becomes uncomfortable.
Take an anti-inflammatory medication if you feel marked discomfort from the swelling. Drug stores sell naproxen sodium, acetaminophen and aspirin over the counter, but heed manufacturers' directions if you take any medication.
Dab an antibiotic cream or ointment on the affected area to prevent reinfection of the original pimple's site or the spread of pimples to surrounding skin. Popping a pimple leaves an opening in the skin through which bacteria can gain entry, so cleanliness after popping is vital.
Lie down for an hour or two with the swollen area elevated, if possible. Elevation lets gravity do part of the work of draining fluid from edematous skin. Treating the swelling associated with a popped pimple before bedtime is ideal because you'll spend many hours lying down.
Leave the site undisturbed once you've applied ice and antibiotic ointment. Further manipulation of your skin will only create more swelling, while picking at any scabs could result in permanent scarring. To minimize future breakouts, blot or pat your skin as you wash or dry it. Scrubbing can accidentally pop pimples and spread their contents elsewhere on your skin.
While toothpaste might help dry an unpopped pimple, the grit and menthol will sting a popped pimple and inflame skin even more, so avoid this home remedy.
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