Now that you’ve survived a pimple, it’s time to survive the aftermath: the acne scab. You did what you should never, ever do: You popped a pimple, resulting in a particularly massive scab that’s so, so noticeable. You’ve got a huge presentation this week… is there anything that can be done?
Don’t panic. There are several at-home remedies you can try to help speed up the skin-healing process, get rid of those scabs, and, hopefully, help prevent the formation of scars. Ready to get to work?
Getting Rid of Face Scabs
There it is, staring right back at you in the mirror. It feels like it could be so easy just to get rid of that scab, using your fingers to pick it off. Don’t do it!
You’ve heard that picking can leave to scarring, and it’s true.
When your skin is damaged, your body begins the repair process by promoting blood clotting and increasing the presence of epidermal skin cells at the site of injury. Prematurely removing the blood clot and extra epidermal skin interrupts the skin-healing process. In fact, you’re removing some of the newly generated tissue underneath the scab – that’s why you can get those characteristic acne scars.1
What you want to do is gently soothe pimple scabs and bumps. That’s because acne scabs promote irritation in your skin.2 And the more severe and long-lasting this irritation is, the more likely you may be to develop a scar. So, do not pick… but do try to bring down the irritation as quickly as possible.
How can you do this? Well, there are a few ways you can stimulate your skin’s repair process. This will help get rid of those scabs sooner than later, possibly preventing the development of scars. And you’ll feel confident about your complexion again.
Here are some easy, at-home remedies to try:
Nothing feels more comforting than applying a warm compress to a wound. But it doesn’t just feel good… it is good for scabs. Warm temperatures help increase blood flow to your skin’s tissue. And, since blood carries oxygen to cells, that means the tissue is getting a big boost of oxygen – which can help skin tissue in the recovery process.3
To apply a warm compress:
1. Start with a clean washcloth. There may be some residual bacteria on washcloths that have already been used, so you want to avoid putting that on the skin while it’s in the process of healing.4
2. Soak the washcloth in warm (not hot!) water.
3.. Apply the washcloth to your scab for 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t use the washcloth to scrub at your scab. Just gently hold it against the spot for a bit.
4. Repeat this process twice a day.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil – also known as melaleuca alternifolia – is derived from the tea tree in Australia. The oil has been used for generations by the Aboriginal people to soothe wounds and speed the skin repair process, and for good reason. Studies have pointed to tea tree oil’s effectiveness at reducing breakouts and speeding the skin repair process.5
Tea tree oil also has properties that help fend off bacteria and microbial activity, ensuring that scabs remain healthy while your skin is recovering.6
To use tea tree oil:
1. Start with a clean, dry face.
2. Apply a few drops of oil to a cotton swab.
3. Gently pat the cotton swab on the scab.
4. Repeat twice a day.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a folk remedy that many people swear by. It’s utilized to help aid digestion, reduce dandruff, promote weight loss, and boost skin health.7
And it just may be helpful in helping to diminish those acne scabs. Apple cider vinegar has properties that fight off bacteria and microorganisms that may inhibit your skin’s repair process.8
To use apple cider vinegar:
1. Dilute one part vinegar in four parts water.
2. Do a spot test by dabbing the solution on your wrist. Apple cider vinegar may be irritating to those with sensitive skin, so you don’t want to put it on your face until you know how you will react.
3. If you react well, apply the solution with a cotton swab to the scab. Avoid fresh scabs, as the solution might sting.
4. Leave on for up to 15 minutes, then rinse off.
This remedy is sweet as honey. That’s right – honey isn’t just for sweetening up a cup of chamomile tea. It also works wonders on your skin. Honey is known to hydrate skin, prevent wrinkle formation, relieve itchiness, and regulate skin pH levels. And yes, honey can help your skin repair itself after it’s been damaged.9
Here are some properties of honey that make it effective in getting rid of acne scabs:
- Fights off bacteria
- Soothes irritation
- Stimulates skin tissue growth
- Reduces swelling
- Keep skin moist
- Promotes collagen production, which will stimulate the creation of new skin10
A great honey to try is manuka honey. Studies have shown that manuka honey, which comes from the manuka bush in New Zealand, is particularly effective at addressing problem skin.11
To use honey:
1. Start with a clean, dry face and hands.
2. Apply a few dots of honey with your fingers. Avoid cotton swabs, as the honey may pick up the small fibers and deposit them on the scab.
3. Cover with a bandage, and leave on for at least 20 minutes. Ideally, you can leave it on overnight for in-depth relief.
You’ve probably used aloe vera after a sunburn. But did you know that you can use it for other skin conditions, too? And yes, that includes acne scabs.
Aloe vera can help speed up the scab recovery process because it increases the production of collagen – in other words, newly formed skin.12
Aloe vera is also highly moisturizing. Studies have shown that scabs tend to diminish more quickly when exposed to moist environments. These same studies have shown that keeping scabs moisturized may actually decrease the risk of developing scars.13
To use aloe vera:
1. Apply to clean, dry skin.
2. Leave on several hours or overnight.
3. Rinse off.
Use a Bandage
It’s probably not practical to wear a bandage on your face while you’re out and about. After all, a bandage on your face is probably more noticeable than a small scab.
However, wearing a bandage on your acne scabs while you’re at home is a good idea. The bandage helps in two ways:
1. It reduces the risk of further trauma to the scab by keeping it protected.
2. It continuously exposes the scab to proteins and molecules that aid in the skin repair process. These proteins and molecules might otherwise be lost when exposed to air.14
So, head on over to the drugstore, and invest in some good old-fashioned bandages.
Bid Farewell to Face Scabs
The development of acne scabs is an inevitable part of the breakout process. A scab is your body’s way of repairing your skin after you’ve had a pimple. Taking steps to ease irritation, and avoiding picking the scabs, will do your complexion favors in the long run. So, try one (or several!) of these remedies to help soothe irritation and get your clear complexion back. And remember: Just as with pimples, an acne scab can take a little bit of time to completely heal, so try to be patient.