Does icing a pimple work? A research-based answer

Does icing a pimple work?

Does icing a pimple work?

If you are hearing a lot of buzz around you (offline & online) about icing for pimples then chances are, that you want to have a little shot at it just to confirm the fact that “does icing a pimple actually works to heal the swelling & acne breakouts or not?”

With that being said, there is no denying in the fact that pimples & blemishes do affect us at least once in their life, especially in our teens. No matter what remedy they use, some people just can’t seem to be getting rid of these ugly cysts, blackheads, and whiteheads.

Alright, then do you want to find out the truth for this icing on pimple thing?

Then please keep reading below to find out how can simply using ice on acne & pimples can help you reduce swelling, redness and facilitate healing without aggravating your painful pimples.

Icing for pimples: How ice cubes can heal Acne & Pimples?

ice cubes can heal acne and pimples

The idea of using cold treatments like home remedies for different kinds of skin concerns is quite old. Our forefathers have been doing this for decades and this is especially true for acne treatment, of which ice therapy has been a regular part.

This has recently been confirmed by AAD (American Academy of Dermatology) too which has advised to do away with alcoholic treatments for acne as it can overuse of harsh ingredients in them can aggravate your acne problem. 

But how exactly ice helps your acne and pimples, let’s find out.

1. Ice can reduce swelling & inflammation of pimples

The first major benefit of using ice for pimples is that it can considerably reduce the swelling and resulting inflation & redness from all sorts of inflammation-causing acne-like cysts, nodules, pustules or papules.

Actually what ice does is that it actually he blood veins which reduce the blood flow towards the pimple or acne are which directly helps to minimize the swelling & inflammation.

2. Ice can reduce redness due to pimples

As mentioned earlier, it constricts blood vessels to slow down the flow of blood towards pimples which can immediately help to reduce some redness around your pimples(since our blood is mostly red cells: redness) which can help you make them less noticeable.

3. Ice can reduce pain due to pimples

As mentioned earlier, when you apply ice on your pimples/acne, it immediately cools down the pimple skin area and has a numbing effect which immediately relieves some pain. This can make the painful acne/pimples a little bearable.

4. Ice can shrink the pores to minimize the appearance of pimples

Just like heat can open up your pores, cold can close them( not closing completely but tightening considerably). This is the principle on which icing on pimples helps to reduce the appearance of pimples. 

As mentioned earlier, as icing helps numb the skin and its underlying nerve endings, it reduces the flow of blood towards the pimple area which works to reduce the size of your pimples and ultimately making them greatly minimized or nearly invisible.

5. Ice can help protect & remove away dirt & debris from pimples

The icing on pimples can both protect from bacterial infection and help remove away and dirt & dirt from the face.

On one hand, icing helps to stop aggravating your already-ance by shrinking the pores opening and not allowing any dirt or debris(followed by bacteria)to cause further damage.

On the other hand, washing your face with ice-cold water can wash away any dirt or debris on your face as cool water has some good astringent properties.

important point
Many dermatologists recommend alternating between warm and cool compresses to exercise the pore and get the plug out. If you have clear skin but want to prevent acne, use only cool compresses or cool water.


Despite such benefits, there’s no research available to indicate that ice alone is an effective treatment for pimples. Ice may be considered as a part of a smart skincare routine that includes:

How to use ice for pimples?

How to use ice for pimples?

So, you have now know how good can icing be for your acne and pimples, but should you then just head over your fridge and start rubbing some ice cubes on your face? Right?

No, Absolutely no. You can’t use ice like that for your pimples. If you do, you risk aggravating them. So, how can you reap these benefits of ice for your pimples effectively?

Let’s find out below the steps you need to take to make the most out of it.

Step 1: properly cleanse your skin

Just like you have to do for other skincare treatments, you would have to do it here now too. A clean pimple area is generally more receptive to topical treatments.

Step 2: Don’t apply ice directly instead make an ice pack

Now, take some ice cubes, make a wrap around it with a thin cloth or a towel( thicker the wrap, the more ice cubes you would need). Or if you like, you can use a cool compress instead.

Step 3: Gently rub this wrap of ice cubes for 10-12 minutes on your pimples

When you wrap or ice cubes or cool compress is ready, simply gently rub against your pimples for a total of 10-12 minutes with gaps of one minute after rubbing of 2-3 minutes each.

Do this in both your morning and evenings for 3-4 days and if your pimples are extremely inflamed, you can add some more time whenever you do this. But, don’t go so fast with it and create some gap in between to avoid aggravating your pimple problem.

Other ways ice can help you against pimples

ice cubes for pimples

Directly using an ice pack on your pimples is not the only way ice can help you against pimples, there are some other good ways that can be equally effective too.

1. Ice with a hot compress for pimples

Applying ice on pimples post a good warm/hot treatment can work very well for pimples too.

It is that simple: by using a warm treatment like a hot compress or steamed towel/cloth for 4-5 minutes before applying ice, you are helping any trapped debris in pores to come out smoothly to immediately reduce inflammation & swelling.

Immediately applying ice block for 1-2 minutes would help you close this pimple pore to a greater degree since the debris inside it is reduced. Doing this process daily can make the pimple disappear very quickly.

2. Ice as a frozen mix of essential oils, tea, lemon, etc.

Don’t limit yourself to ice only. Anything which is frozen would simply help your pimples. 

Then why not get some essential oils like lavender, rose water, tea tree oil, rosemary, peppermint, lemon or even some tea (green or chamomile) mixed with water and get frozen ice cubes made up of these purely natural infusions.

 These natural ingredients would put your pimples soothing effects on steroids.

3. Ice as a cold compress for gentler pimple treatment

You don’t have to always use ice if you have a relatively gentler form of acne/pimples. Just apply a cool compress on your pimples for a couple of minutes in both morning and evening and you are good to go.

Or alternatively,  If you have body acne, you would get the best results by alternating between warm and cool compress to ease the pimple out and relieve you of inflammation & pain.

4. Ice as cold water for pimples

You don’t have to take the ice for ice. Instead, you can equally benefit by simply splashing cool water your pimples skin both in the morning when you wake up and at night when you are about to go to sleep.

To spice things up and get more benefits for your acne/pimple skin, you can use a light exfoliator before you splash cold water on your face to treat your pimples pretty quickly.

Best curated Acne & pimples treatments

Do’s & Don’ts of icing for pimples

Dos and Dont's for pimples


  • Always use ice cubes covered in wrap/towel
  • Rub the wrap on the surface of the pimple for 10-12 minutes with at least a 1-minute rest after 3-4 minutes.
  • Always rub the ice gently, never be too harsh as it pops your pimples & spread to other areas of skin.
  • Make it a part of your skincare regimen and use it in both mornings & evenings.
  • You can use ice after a hot/steam compress treatment, not the other way round.


  • Don’t apply ice directly over your pimples/skin.
  • Don’t apply over your pimples for too long as this can lead to frostbites. (it should last maximum for 10-12 minutes). Always take gaps in between.
  • Don’t use heat after icing (always use icing after hot/steam compress). Doing this can aggravate your pimples/acne
  • Don’t pop your pimples whatsoever. Doing this you are risking the spread of acne/pimples to other areas of skin and potential scarring.

When to see a dermatologist?

skin dermatologist for acne

Let’s make one thing clear, ice is not a magic pill for pimples. Moreover, there is no research evidence to support that it is the go-to remedy for acne or pimples and a lot of natural remedies take their time to work.

However, this does not mean, you should be waiting on for weeks and months to get your pimples to heal themselves simply by using some ice cubes.

If you are not seeing any visible results in a couple of days or a week maximum, it should be a red flag for you.

Don’t delay a visit to your dermatologist, if you find the following symptoms on your skin.

  • extensive redness
  • Blistering
  • long-term numbness
  • changes in your skin color

How to get rid of zits/pimples by shrinking?

how to get rid of zits by shrinking?

While ice is a good option for soothing and treating pimples, but there are other ways too that can help you shrink your acne pimples and ultimately get rid of them completely by healing quickly. 

Safely popping a pimple to shrink and get rid of it slowly is a good option. Let’s dive into how you can get rid of these ugly zits and pimples by applying the popping pimple methodology. 

How to pop a cystic pimple safely?

While popping a pimple is never a good idea, as a last resort, you might want to squeeze its liquid out to get immediate relief from the discomfort it is causing as normal healing can take a number of days. Especially, if you want to get rid of those whiteheads and blackheads, there is a safer way to get that done. 

Read below to find out how to safely pop a blackhead/whitehead pimples.

How to pop a whitehead pimple?

How to pop a whitehead pimple?

Whitehead pimples, as the name indicates, have visible white pus trapped in their pores. To make their popping process easier, you can make use of benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid which can help reduce their inflammation and make your popping process less painful.

Steps to take

  1. Thoroughly wash your hands to avoid infecting your pimple bacteria on your hand and other body parts.
  2. Get and fine needle and sterile it with alcohol. Now, inject this fine pin in your pimple gently and you would see white fluid coming out.
  3. Without slacking your pimple skin, use a cotton ball to drain out your pimple. This would allow you to push bacteria deep in your pimple and skin.
  4. Once all the white fluid has come out, wash your pimple area with a sterilizing, antibacterial agent like with hazel.
  5. Just leave your pimple as its and it would start to heal in a couple of days.

How to pop a blackhead pimple?

How to pop a blackhead pimple?

Blackheads pimples form when pus and bacteria inside them turn black when get exposed to the atmosphere. These are easier to open and extract liquid as their pores are bigger as compared to a whitehead.

Steps to take

  1. First, properly clean up your hands with a good soap and lukewarm water.
  2. Now slightly loosen the pore further by applying a product like a benzoyl peroxide to make your process easier.
  3. Using soft cotton swabs, press the blackhead pimple from both sides to squeeze the liquid and continue to do so until most of the liquid has come out.
  4. Finally, sterilize the blackhead pimple area by using witch hazel to prevent the germs of pimples to spread elsewhere.

When to not pop a pimple?

When to not pop a pimple?

Not all pimples and blemishes are created equal and you should not try to pop these types of pimples(if you have to, follow these tips). If you would try to do so, i.e pop a pimple that should never be popped, you risk exposing your inner layers of skin to harmful germs and bacteria which can lead to serious infection and permanent scarring.

The kind of pimples you should never try to pop is.

  • Boils
  • cystic acne pimples
  • Pimples deep under the skin surface
  • non-whitehead/blackhead pimples 
Popping pimples alternative: What you should do instead of popping a pimple?

Is popping cystic acne safe? The simple answer to this question is “NO”. Why? Because cystic acne pimples are one of those kinds of deep acne pimples which should never be pop and if you do that, you risk serious bacterial infection and permanent scarring on your skin As mentioned earlier, popping a pimple should be your last resort. If you really care about your skin health, you need to look at the following better alternatives before you take the risk of getting a potential infection by popping your pimple. Consider these solid alternatives before you squeeze out that bad looking pimple. 

  1. Always seek professional help before you do it yourself as this would allow you to avoid getting a serious infection which is very much possible if you do it by yourself.
  2. Try making your pimple to pop on their own which is much safer. This could be done by simply applying a hot compress that slackens the pores and liquid can come out itself. 
  3. Try first to heal your pimples with a good over-the-counter spot medication. According to Mayo Clinic, Look out for low key benzoyl peroxide ingredients for these pimples treatments.
  4. Try some of the following topical home remedies like baking soda, tea tree oil, and charcoal masks.

How to avoid potential acne scars after popping a pimple?

How to avoid acne scars after popping pimples?

Scars after pimples are a common concern for a lot of people. However, not all pimples lead to scars. There are a number of things you can do to avoid getting those ugly scars on your face or body.

Follow these steps to prevent those acne scars associated with pimples.

Tip 1: Keep your affected face area clean

This is the basic yet effective key step to prevent the formation of scars in the first place. Keep your pimple area clean with lukewarm water and gentle soap for at least 3 times a day or after any physical activity.

Tip 2: Never touch or pick your pimples

This is the simple most important step to avoid scars as squeezing or pressing out the liquid from the acne breakouts can lead to permanent scars.

Tip 3: Sun-protect your pimples

Always cover up your pimples as direct sun exposure can darken your pimples and form acne scars.

Tip 4: Apply topical treatments like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid

Using topical treatments like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid ingredients that help exfoliate the skin’s surface can help regeneration of new skin cells and removal of dead skin cells which would greatly reduce the risk of formation of scars.

Look for ingredients that help exfoliate the skin’s surface like salicylic acid and glycolic acid, and encourage cell turnover and regeneration with retinol.

Tip 5: Seek professional help if everything does not work

If the above acne scars prevention tips don’t work, consulting your dermatologist should be your best bet. They have a variety of effective medications like antibiotics, topical cream and cortisone injections, etc that can not only treat your acne pimples but prevent any possibility of scar formation.

How to use ice cubes to treat pimples?


  1. Q: Can ice help to remove pimples?

    Ans: Yes, ice can help against pimples by slowly shrinking its pores and ultimately removing them. Moreover, it can protect against bacterial infection by forcing out dirt and debris to keep the spread of acne/pimples in check.

  2. Q: Is it good to put ice on your face?

    Ans: Yes, ice can prove to be good for your face if you have pimples in the following way.
    1. Ice can reduce swelling & inflammation of pimples
    2. Ice can reduce redness due to pimples
    3. Ice can reduce pain due to pimples
    4. Ice can shrink the pores to minimize the appearance of pimples
    5. Ice can help protect and remove away dirt & debris from pimple

  3. Q: Why does ice help pimples?

    Ans: Ice helps pimples because of its following benefits against them.
    1. Ice can reduce swelling & inflammation of pimples
    2. Ice can reduce redness due to pimples
    3. Ice can reduce pain due to pimples
    4. Ice can shrink the pores to minimize the appearance of pimples
    5. Ice can help protect and remove away dirt & debris from pimple

  4. Q: How do you reduce the swelling of a pimple?

    Ans: You can reduce the swelling of a pimple in the following possible ways.
    1. Apply ice, as it can help reduce your swelling and inflammation by shrinking pores and decreasing the flow of blood towards pimples area.
    2. Gently cleanse the pimple with gentle soap and use a good moisturizer after that.
    3. Get an over-the-counter medicine to immediately reduce the swelling of a pimple.

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