Is Neosporin An Effective Acne Treatment?

Since the dawn of, well, forever, people have been trying to figure out the best ways to fight acne. Whether it's the occasional zit or full-blown breakout, trying to find the perfect remedy for acne is on par with trying to find the fountain of youth. All you need is to wake up on a Monday with a big ol' pimple and your week is shattered, especially if it's one of those underground ones that you know is going to take its sweet time to leave your face. 

While there are products specifically made for acne, sometimes we don't have those products on hand, so we try other methods to remedy the situation. Toothpaste, for example, has been heralded as an acne fighter (via Healthline). Just dab a little on your zit and, like magic, it's gone the next morning! No, it's not. In not-so-breaking news, toothpaste does more damage than good if you slather it on your pimples. So don't do that. Ever. 

There are also the rumors that rubbing alcohol, a couple of hours baking the zit in the sun, and popping it when it looks "ready" will also cure that evil pimple stat (via Insider). Again, no; these techniques don't work either.

But what about Neosporin? If acne is essentially bacteria under the skin, shouldn't Neosporin do the trick? Let's break it down, shall we?

The benefits of Neosporin

In a lot of cases, Neosporin is a lifesaver. It's an antibiotic ointment that you can pretty much pick up anywhere. It's great for minor cuts, scrapes, burns, and all the other things that can go awry when you're fumbling around out there in the world. Neosporin protects these injuries from getting infected and from scarring too badly, thanks to its active ingredients: neomycin, polymyxin, and bacitracin (via Medical News Today).

In fact, Neosporin is so beneficial that it should be in everyone's medicine cabinet. Especially those who are accident-prone or who are a danger to themselves in the kitchen. Yes, it's that great. But guess what it's not great for?

"[The antibiotics in Neosporin are] more commonly targeting bacteria that would be more likely to cause a superficial skin infection as opposed to true acne," dermatologist Marisa Garshick, M.D., tells Shape. "I would not recommend using Neosporin for acne — you're not targeting the main cause of it ... and it can lead to skin redness, flaking, rashes, and blistering."

Neosporin can actually make acne worse and even cause new acne to join the acne party. This is why Neosporin made Newsweek's list consisting of the "worst acne cures." Toothpaste was on the list too, FYI.

Acne treatments that actually work

Now that we've cleared that up, here are some things that can legitimately help that solo zit or breakout. Products that contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or sulfur are great for clearing up acne (via SLMD Skincare). Prescription antibiotics, retinol, tea tree oil, and blue light therapy are also on the list of things that will aid in controlling acne without destroying your skin in the process (via Healthline).

Meanwhile, some everyday items that can lend a hand in your fight against pimples include red grapes, honey, aloe vera, cucumbers, turmeric, and even oatmeal (via Everyday Health). All these things contain components that aid in various ways. From the anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties in turmeric to the hydrating and anti-inflammatory effect of cucumbers to the bactericidal activity of grapes and the salicylic acid and sulfur in aloe vera, you now have a decent list of better alternatives to Neosporin.

So, the next time you have a zit and you reach for the Neosporin, stop yourself. Put it back. Close the medicine cabinet door and scrounge around for something else. Of all these things to choose from, you probably have at least one at home you can use instead.