How Do I Get Rid of Pimples Overnight?

Reviewed on 6/17/2022
Woman looking in the mirror at a pimple on her face
Pimples usually cannot go away overnight, but it is possible to help reduce redness and swelling so they heal more quickly. Acne can be treated and prevented with over-the-counter (OTC) topical (on the skin) face washes and creams, in-office dermatologist treatments, and proper skin care at home.

Pimples (acne vulgaris, or acne for short) are a common skin condition characterized by chronic or recurrent development of papules, pustules, or nodules on the skin. Pimples are common among adolescents and young adults but can occur at any age. 

It is generally not possible to get rid of pimples overnight, but it is possible to help reduce redness and swelling so they heal more quickly. 

15 Pimple Treatments & Remedies

Over-the-counter (OTC) topical (on the skin) face washes and creams may be used as spot treatment to help improve the appearance of pimples. Look for products that contain:

  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Salicylic acid 
  • Azelaic acid 

A dermatologist may also be able to help treat certain types of breakouts faster: 

  • Draining and extracting a pimple
    • May cause scarring
  • Corticosteroid injections for large, painful, deep acne breakouts
    • Starts to help reduce redness and swelling within eight hours and the pimple may resolve completely within a few days 
    • Usually reserved for treating a few severe acne breakouts due to possible side effects such as pitting, skin discoloration, or thinning skin

Pimples may often be treated with self-care at home. Home treatments for acne include: 

  • Cleanse twice daily and after sweating and rinse with lukewarm water
  • Use gentle, non-abrasive cleanser and apply with fingertips
    • Don’t scrub skin
    • Washcloths and sponges may irritate the skin
  • Use gentle products on the skin
    • Choose alcohol-free products
    • Products that irritate skin can aggravate acne
  • Shampoo oily hair daily
  • Don’t pick, pop, or squeeze pimples
    • Let skin heal naturally
    • Picking or popping pimples can make them take longer to go away and may increase the risk of scarring
  • Don’t touch your face because bacteria on your fingers can get into pores and cause pimples
  • Avoid the sun and tanning beds
    • Ultraviolet (UV) light damages the skin
    • Some acne medications make the skin sensitive to UV light

Other treatments for acne include: 

  • Prescription topical (on the skin) medications 
    • Retinoids
    • Benzoyl peroxide plus a retinoid or a topical antibiotic 
  • Women may be prescribed a birth control pill or patch approved to treat acne
  • Laser or light therapy
    • May help clear acne
    • Works best combined with other acne treatments

What Are Symptoms of Pimples?

Pimples usually develop on the face, chest, upper back, and shoulders but can occur anywhere on the body. In the table below, learn the differences among the various types of acne.

Pimple Symptoms by Type
Pimple Type Symptoms/Characteristics
Papules Small, red, tender bumps
Pustules Papules with pus at the tip
Blackheads Open plugged pores
Whiteheads Closed plugged pores
Nodules Large, solid, painful lumps under the skin
Cystic lesions Painful, pus-filled lumps under the skin

What Causes Pimples?

Pimples are caused by clogged pores, which can be due to many factors, including: 

  • Hormones 
    • Pimples are common during puberty and adolescence, when hormones increase
  • Inflammation 
    • Inflammation causes redness and soreness in pimples
  • Genetics
    • Pimples tend to run in families
  • Stress 
    • Stress can affect hormones, which can result in pimples
    • This happens more frequently in females than males
Reviewed on 6/17/2022

Image Source: iStock Images

United States. American Academy of Dermatology Association. "Virtually everyone can have clear skin." June 16, 2022.

United States. Wolters Kluwer. "Acne vulgaris: Overview of management." June 16, 2022.

United States. Wolters Kluwer. "Pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of acne vulgaris." June 16, 2022.