Imagine waking up one day with a huge angry zit on your face. Unfortunately, you don't have pimple cream or any other skin product that can help you get rid of it. So, what do you do in this scenario?
Chances are, your first instinct would be is to grab the nearest tube of toothpaste. It's a home remedy that's been handed down through the ages. Just dab some toothpaste on a zit and it will clear up overnight.
But is this practice- economical as it may seem at first glance- safe and good for you in the long run?
First off, toothpaste has a huge number of ingredients that can vary from brand to brand. Some of these ingredients may trigger allergies and other adverse health effects that you might not be ready to deal with. Other ingredients like the chemical triclosan (which is incorporated into toothpaste because of its antimicrobial properties) are currently being studied for possible links to increased chances of colon cancer.
Secondly, toothpaste, as its name suggests is primarily intended to be used on tough teeth enamel. As such, it often contains hard and abrasive chemicals that you wouldn't normally use on sensitive skin like alcohol. While these ingredients dry out pimples quickly (thus giving the illusion of healing), they can also dry out and irritate the surrounding skin too.
A Quick Look at Common Toothpaste Ingredients
As we've mentioned above, toothpaste ingredients vary from brand to brand. However, almost all of them have these ingredients in common: sodium lauryl sulfate (to help loosen surface debris and plaque from the teeth), glycerin (prevents the toothpaste from drying out), sorbitol (another flavoring and moistening agent), baking soda (for teeth-whitening), fluoride (helps prevent tooth decay), and triclosan (added as an antibacterial agent).
While these ingredients have been thoroughly researched and cleared by experts on their efficacy of use for teeth cleaning, they haven't been rated for use on sensitive facial skin. There's a good reason why no dermatologist would prescribe toothpaste to treat acne- there's just no research currently available that supports it. And it's been known that some of these ingredients can do more damage than good when used on the skin. For example, alcohol can severely dry out the skin and strip it of its moisture. Baking soda can wreak havoc on your skin's natural pH balance, disrupting its protective acidity and leaving it inflamed and prone to irritation and/or infection.
Triclosan is also another problematic chemical. It has seen widespread use in hygiene products like soaps, shampoos, and body washes. It is included in toothpaste formulations not only for its antibacterial properties but also for the fact that it can act as a preservative to make the product last longer. However, it is also known to cause irritation and trigger allergies when applied to the skin. There's also the fact that there's research that shows that there is a probable link between triclosan and colon cancer.
Tried and Tested Safe Methods in Treating Acne
So if you have a pimple on your face, don't reach for that tube of toothpaste! Always opt for treatments that have been tried and tested to work, and those that have been approved by experts. You can set up a consultation with a doctor or a dermatologist to know more about acne treatment options.
These are the usual ways in which acne is treated:
1. Through Acne-Specific Treatments
These are products that are specifically manufactured to get rid of acne. Most of these contain substances like benzoyl peroxide and topical retinoids that help in counteracting acne. Other treatments may also include sulfur and salicylic acid, both of which have been known to reduce the appearance of zits.
To use them, the American Academy of Dermatology advises washing with a mild cleanser first and then dabbing a small bit of the acne cream into the affected area.
2. Through Natural Home Remedies
Popular home remedies for acne include white willow bark, tea tree oil, as well as products that contain charcoal and clay. Do take note that the efficacy of these products has been established mostly through anecdotal evidence, and as such, you still need to practice due diligence when using them. For example, tea tree oil is known to be very effective in reducing the inflammation brought about by acne. However, the substance itself can be too strong and you only need a few drops of it for it to work.
Risks of Using Toothpaste on Pimples and Zits
Aside from dryness and inflammation, using toothpaste can also exacerbate your acne problem. While the toothpaste does dry your pimples out, this may prompt your body into overproducing your facial skin oils to restore it to its natural moisture. When this happens, you might get a bigger acne outbreak shortly. Leaving the harsh toothpaste on the skin for too long can also cause contact dermatitis, which would leave your skin red and inflamed.
Toothpaste is usually treated as a quick fix for acne breakouts, but this should not be the case. Using toothpaste on your face can do more harm than good, and it's best not to risk it. Always use approved acne remedies to treat your acne problem. This way, you won't place yourself at risk for adverse allergic reactions, inflammation, and bigger breakouts that is brought about by using toothpaste in a place where it is not intended to be used.
Can toothpaste really cause acne?
It may not really cause acne per se, but it can aggravate it. Some of the chemicals and substances used in the production of toothpaste may further inflame and aggravate the acne that is already on your skin.
Are there substances in toothpaste that can burn the skin?
Yes, there are. Baking soda and alcohol, two common toothpaste ingredients, can produce a burning sensation on the skin if applied for a long period of time.
Is toothpaste safe to use on a lip pimple?
No, it's not. use only dermatologist-approved treatments for any kind of pimple. The skin on the lips is particularly sensitive, so it's a bad idea to apply something as harsh as toothpaste on it.