Aspirin for Acne — Does It Actually Work?

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While you probably pop an aspirin for a headache, have you considered doing the same for acne? A widely circulated internet hack, aspirin can be used for spot treating pimples but does it actually work? The science around this trick is fairly vague.

To use this method, you crush a few aspirin tablets and mix with one tablespoon of warm water to create a paste. Then, you apply this paste directly to the acne and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.

According to Healthline, aspirin contains a substance called acetylsalicylic acid, which is related to the widely used anti-acne ingredient salicylic acid. Acetylsalicylic acid is said to have anti-inflammatory benefits, making it a great option to use for pimples when you’re in a pinch. You know those moments when you have a busy day of meetings and you happen to wake up with the world’s largest zit? This is when aspirin is said to come in handy.

While related, these ingredients aren’t the same thing and as Healthline points out, there’s currently no evidence that points to anti-inflammatory benefits from using aspirin topically for acne. One small study from 2002 with 24 adults found histamine-induced skin inflammation found that it reduced some symptoms but not the accompanying itch associated with acne.

Another thing to note is that using crushed up aspirin as an acne treatment can actually cause skin dryness and irritation, with some people experiencing peeling and redness from the concoction.

The evidence as to whether this hack works is pretty lacking, so going forward, try using skincare products with ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and retinoids, which are all proven to effectively treat acne.

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