A: A tried-and-true approach is to dab the zit with an over-the-counter topical acne product three times over the next 24 hours—but the trick is to choose the right product for your type of pimple, so it’s important to check labels. If the bump is under the skin: Use a product that contains salicylic acid, which opens up pores and decreases inflammation. For an elevated pustule: Choose a product with bacteria-killing benzoyl peroxide. If the spot is very large and inflamed: Also dab it with nonprescription 1% hydrocortisone cream up to four times over the course of the day.
Then, right before the big event, apply a mineral-based concealer. This will help cover any lingering redness.
If the zit is welt-like in size and you really need to look your best (for instance, for a photo shoot or wedding), a doctor can inject a diluted steroid solution into the pimple. By the next morning, the lesion should be nearly gone. The cost is about $75 to $250, depending on where you live. Warning: Steroid injections may cause permanent bleaching of the treated skin and/or create a temporary or permanent indentation at the injection site—though fortunately these side effects are rare.
New cutting-edge option: A treatment some doctors are offering is to inject microdroplets of Botox into or near the zit. This reduces inflammation and redness (but not the size of the pimple) within a couple of days. The cost is about $150. Caution: If too much Botox is used, it could weaken muscles in the treated area and create a temporary asymmetrical appearance of the face until the Botox wears off in a few months.
To reduce the chances of side effects with either type of injection, it pays to go to a cosmetic surgeon or dermatologic surgeon experienced in such procedures. Referrals: The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (www.aafprs.org)... or American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (www.asds.net).
Source: Steven H. Dayan, MD, is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon in private practice in Chicago. He also is a clinical assistant professor in the department of otolaryngology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, serves on the editorial board of the journal Facial Plastic Surgery and is the author of Instant Beauty: The Complete Consumer’s Guide to Quick, Safe, and Effective Cosmetic Treatments (Hatherleigh). www.DrDayan.com