Can toothpaste on pimples really zap stubborn zits? As an adult, acne isn't exactly the way you may have imagined recapturing your youth. But that doesn't mean you have to suffer through blemishes or hide them under layers of cakey makeup. Before you dab on some toothpaste for a spot treatment, take a moment to learn the facts and fictions about this supposed skin care solution.
Why Do People Think Toothpaste on Pimples Works?
The logic behind this homemade cure comes from the thought that some ingredients used in topical acne products are also found in toothpastes. So, some people think toothpaste will therefore treat acne the same way. Take hydrogen peroxide, for instance. DermNet NZ lists this ingredient as a suitable topical agent for mild acne that you can get over the counter. It's also one of the most common ingredients used in whitening toothpastes, as the American Dental Association explains.
While some acne-fighting ingredients may be found in both acne and oral care products, don't assume the ingredients will work in the same way when not used as directed. Always follow the instructions on the product label and your doctor or dentist's advice.
What Does the Science Say?
As of now, there's no real scientific evidence backing up the claims that dental products can clear skin blemishes. In other words, your dermatologist isn't likely to prescribe a tube of toothpaste for your pimple problem.
Instead, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends washing your skin with a mild, fragrance-free cleanser and applying a 2 percent benzoyl peroxide cream product to the affected area. If you prefer a more natural route, you can apply a paper towel-covered ice cube to the pimple for five to ten minutes to reduce pain and swelling, or try warm compresses. Gels containing tea tree oil may also be effective treatments for acne, according to the Mayo Clinic.
While the appearance of a pimple every once in a while isn't necessarily cause for concern, multiple or persistent outbreaks may require a doctor or dermatologist's intervention. Along with benzoyl peroxide-containing products, the AAD notes that some peels, topical products containing salicylic acid or antibiotics, isotretinoin, and light therapy may also help acne patients. Along with these prescription treatments, topical retinoid creams and anti-inflammatory gels may also clear your skin, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. However, you should always consult a medical professional before attempting to treat your acne.
Unintended Outcomes of Toothpaste Ingredients
The AAD recommends consulting a dermatologist before you try any natural or medical zit-zapping remedy. It also cautions consumers to avoid using toothpaste on zits, especially since certain ingredients in toothpastes can actually clog pores or irritate the skin.
Toothpaste products may contain whiteners, synthetic coloring agents, fragrances, and other substances that may cause an allergic reaction on the skin. One case study, published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, found a mint whitening toothpaste at fault for a patient's facial contact dermatitis. After switching to a Tom's of Maine natural toothpaste product with a different flavor and a new antiseptic mouthwash, the patient's rash resolved.
So, whether you're picking a treatment for your acne or a toothpaste for your teeth (and only your teeth!), the important thing is to pick a product with ingredients that you feel good about and that will help you avoid any unintended consequences. Read the ingredient lists to prevent possible allergic reactions or irritation, and consult your medical provider for advice.
What are your go-to acne remedies? Show us your fave complexion clearer by tagging @toms_of_maine on Instagram!
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Why It's Good
While it's best not to try zapping your zits with toothpaste, there are several other options that can help you get your skin cleared the natural way. Knowing what's in the products you use every day can make you more confident in your personal care choices.