Turns out, it used to be a common go-to treatment, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai hospital in New York.
“Toothpaste has been used as a home remedy to treat pimples because many toothpastes used to contain an ingredient called triclosan, which is an antimicrobial that helped kill acne-causing bacteria on the skin,” he says.
The issue? Triclosan is a controversial ingredient. It’s been linked to hormone disruption in a handful of studies, according to the FDA. As a result, many toothpaste formulas these days are ditching it.
That said, toothpaste might still help your pimple when you need a quick solution, says Dr. Zeichner, since most formulas contain drying agents like baking soda and alcohol.
“Toothpaste may have a drying effect on a pimple, and may, in fact, decrease the size of a red angry zit,” Dr. Zeichner says. The issue is, the concentrations that work for your teeth are harsher than when these ingredients are formulated for your skin for your skin.
“If you have access to a traditional acne medication, I advise using that product over toothpaste,” he says.
If you want to try toothpaste to clear up your acne, make sure you’re using a formula that lacks added whiteners, mouthwash, or colors, all of which can irritate your skin and leave you with an angrier-looking red spot. The bottom line? Leave this as a last resort acne treatment. If your zits are an ongoing issues, here’s exactly how to treat adult acne.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health