ZITS: 5 Break-Glass-In-Case-Of-Emergency Tricks

As I sit here with a blemish so large that I may end up naming him (Thor? Steve? Brutus?), about to get my Kenalog Injection, it occurred to me that I may want to share a few of my emergency acne treatment ideas.

Yes, it’s true. Even the skincare-obsessed (and skincare professional) will get the occasional blemish. If you are like me, you might have a fabulous dermatologist in your back pocket.  A quick and almost-painless injection of a steroid and will have you like new in 24-48 hours. What I have is called Kenalog- it’s a glucocorticoid corticosteroid meant for intralesional, (meaning: in-the-zit-itself), injection.

This is one of the best ‘break glass in case of emergency’ treatments before weddings/prom/reunions. There’s risk of a scar when you have these injections, so talk it out with your doc. Sometimes the blemish itself threatens a scar, like when it’s big enough to have its own name. So depending on your situation, despite the risk you may still opt for the shot.

Don’t have a derm? No time for an appointment?

Here are 5 of my top at-home emergency blemish treatments:

Acne Arsenal: Here are a handful of my fave blemish-fighters

Acne Arsenal: Here are a handful of my fave blemish-fighters

Over-the-counter hydrocortisone: 

(I prefer the cream version, but it’s also available in an ointment form) you can apply hydrocortisone 1% a couple times a day for up to 7 days to help reduce inflammation and redness.

Ice, Ice, Baby (better yet, cool packs):

Reduce inflammation by holding a cool pack on for 15 minutes at a time, or as long as is comfortable. It’s good to do while you’re checking email or watching a movie.

Don't forget your 20% off coupon! Super Cutie Cool Packs at Bed, Bath, & Beyond

Don’t forget your 20% off coupon! Super Cutie Cool Packs at Bed, Bath, & Beyond

Tretinoin (aka Retin-a):

If you have some of this (generally for use all over the facial skin at night) I have found that if you use a dab during the day, it can help to flatten things out a bit faster. Tretinoin is typically for anti-aging and /or acne treatment and prevention- it’s a power house prescription. If you don’t happen to have any laying around, Salicylic Acid is always a good one to dry and flatten things out. I love Obagi’s Clenziderm MD Pore Therapy.


Try taking Benedryl or Claritin, if its appropriate for you (i.e, your md says you’re good to go) … It’s all about reducing the inflammation!

Um, yuck. Murder those anaerobic bacteria jerks with BPO

Um, yuck. Murder those anaerobic bacteria jerks with BPO


Benzoyl Peroxide products are awesome for prevention and treatment of the pustule-type of lesions… the yucky ones with the ‘head’ on them. This is because BPO works by bringing oxygen in to murder the anaerobic (O2-hating) bacteria in the follicles. A crazy awesome Rx version is called Acanya, otherwise my fave and most-recommended BPO is Obagi’s Therapeutic Lotion.

Of course, always follow the recommendations of your own skin care professional or physician- and may the force be with you!

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