Desperate times call for desperate measures and it’s safe to say many of us have put toothpaste on a pimple a time or two. While it may, at times, seem effective...it’s actually doing a lot more harm than good.
Let’s start with the reason why toothpaste may (sometimes) work on acne bumps: Many toothpaste formulas contain ingredients that help decrease bacteria and oils, and can shrink the appearance of acne lesions temporarily. And after-all, toothpaste is great for your teeth so it must be okay for your skin, right?
In an effort to clear your acne the right way things up, we enlisted Dr. Jacquelyn Levin to give us the low-down on this oft-practiced DIY trick.
“Many toothpaste formulas once contained a chemical called triclosan that could work to kill the bacteria that causes and worsens breakouts,” says Dr. Levin. However, she also notes that “products today no longer use triclosan in their toothpaste formulas and according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, some testing suggests that triclosan could negatively affect thyroid hormones. So even if you do find a toothpaste that still contains this chemical, using it on pimples may not be worth the risk.”
Some other ingredients commonly found in toothpaste, such as baking soda, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide, are known to be drying, which could help temporarily reduce the appearance of your acne lesions. The menthol in toothpaste can even create a tingly feeling that may temporarily reduce pain and swelling. While that tingly sensation may make it seem like it’s working, who wants just a “temporary” solution?
Sodium lauryl sulfate is another ingredient often found in toothpaste and it can dry up oily skin and also decreases bacteria counts. It, however, “is also a very infamous irritant. So much so that most skin care and hair care formulas don’t use this ingredient anymore,” warns Dr. Levin.
So while there may be some rationale for using toothpaste on acne lesions, we recommend sticking with medical-grade and dermatologist-recommended products that are formulated for the sole purpose of treating acne. We also have a variety of laser treatments that work great to clear acne -- and help prevent it, as well. Win-win!
Overall, while using toothpaste and other at-home remedies found on Pinterest
are tempting, it is safer and healthier to visit a dermatologist instead.
If you have any questions or concerns, we are here for you and sincerely want to help clear your skin the right way.
Yours in good health,
Your Dermatology Team