How to Remove Pimples Using Floss and Mouthwash

Two Parts:Removing Pimples with Floss and MouthwashUsing Proven Acne-Fighting Methods

Popping a pimple can cause scarring and make your acne spread further, so it is not recommended by medical professionals.[1] It's much more effective to treat acne using over-the-counter treatments and other natural remedies. However, if you have a pimple that you're dying to get rid of, a common folk remedy for acne involves using oral hygiene products (specifically dental floss and mouthwash) to attempt to remove inflamed acne. To keep pimples from coming back, though, make sure you also keep your face clean and use a few more reliable acne treatments as well.

Part 1
Removing Pimples with Floss and Mouthwash

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    Wash your hands thoroughly. If you're set on popping a pimple by any method, it's important that you wash your hands before touching your face. The bacteria on your hand, even from just opening/closing the bathroom door, could potentially contaminate the small wound you're about to create or enter other pores on your face.[2]
    • Remember that bacteria is one of the leading causes of acne, along with excessive oil and dead skin cells.[3]
    • Scrub your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Make sure you get under your fingernails and between your fingers, and rinse all the soap away under clean, running water.[4]
    • If you do not have soap or running water, you can clean your hands with hand sanitizer. Simply squirt out hand sanitizer into one hand (about enough to apply to both hands), then rub your hands together. Be sure to cover every surface of your hands and fingers with the hand sanitizer, and keep rubbing your hands together until the hand sanitizer completely evaporates.
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    Clean your face. Not removing excess dirt and bacteria off of your face can also contaminate the site of the pimple, so it's important that you wash your face before and after popping any pimples.[5] Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most effective ingredients to look for in a facial wash, as it kills bacteria on your skin. However, other ingredients like salicylic acid are also effective at exfoliating the skin, and may help by simply washing away bacteria.[6]
    • Do not over wash your face or scrub excessively. This may result in irritated skin and worsened acne.[7]
    • Wet your face with clean lukewarm or cool water.[8]
    • Apply the non-abrasive daily facial cleanser of your choice. Avoid scrubbing. Just gently rub it on your whole face, giving special attention to the affected area and surrounding areas.[9]
    • Thoroughly rinse your face using clean lukewarm water. Pat your face dry with a clean paper towel or a soft, clean cloth towel. Do not rub your face with the towel, as this may irritate the skin.[10]
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    Gather clean dental floss. Gather enough dental floss to wrap around your fingers as if you were about to floss your teeth. About 20 to 30 centimeters (approximately 8 to 12 inches) should be more than enough floss. Wrap both ends of the floss around your two forefingers so that you can properly angle and maneuver the floss.[11]
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    Remove the pimple. To actually remove the pimple, you'll simply position the floss right against one side of the pimple. Then draw the taut line of dental floss across the pimple, staying as close to the surface of your skin as possible.[12]
    • Try to use a somewhat swift "scratching" motion, but don't go too fast or you may inadvertently injure your face.[13]
    • Some people may want to do a second "walk through" with the floss to ensure any deposits in the skin are removed.[14]
    • Throw out the floss when you are finished.[15]
    • Do not reuse floss for any other purpose, including the popping of other pimples. Floss that has already been used can spread bacteria, and should be discarded immediately.
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    Clean the wound. Some folk remedies advise using mouthwash to clean the wound after you've popped the pimple. The reason for this is that mouthwash has antiseptic properties (due to the alcohol content of most mouthwashes), but mouthwash will not burn as badly as higher alcohol agents like pure rubbing alcohol would.[16]
    • Be advised that using mouthwash on your skin for pimple removal purposes is very likely to dry out the skin on your face. It can also make the area inflamed and even scaly.[17]
    • If you are intent on using mouthwash, simply pour a little unused mouthwash out of the bottle onto your face, or apply some mouthwash to a clean cotton ball and wipe the affected area on your face with the cotton.[18]
    • Do not reuse mouthwash that has touched your face or cleaned a wound. Pour out a little bit of mouthwash to use onto a cotton ball. If you contaminate the mouthwash it could potentially spread blood-borne illness and bacteria to your mouth or the mouths of others.

Part 2
Using Proven Acne-Fighting Methods

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    Use over-the-counter topicals. Many over-the-counter medicated washes and topicals are available at drugstores and pharmacies that are proven to help fight acne. The most common ingredients found in over-the-counter products include:
    • benzoyl peroxide - works by killing bacteria to prevent pores from becoming clogged and forming new pimples. Benzoyl peroxide also helps clear away excess oil and dead skin cells, which could also clog pores if left untreated. Benzoyl peroxide is usually found in strengths varying between 2.5 percent to 10 percent in over-the-counter products.[19]
    • salicylic acid - helps prevent pores from clogging, and may even help unclog pores that have already become plugged.[20] It is usually found between 0.5 percent and five percent strengths in most over-the-counter topicals.
    • alpha hydroxy acid - helps clear away dead skin cells and reduce inflammation, and may promote new, smoother skin growth. There are two types of alpha hydroxy acids: glycolic acid and lactic acid.
    • sulfur - helps clear away dead skin cells and excess oil from the body, and is usually used in combination with other topical over-the-counter ingredients when found in a skin wash or medicated topical. Be aware, however, that some products containing sulfur will carry an unpleasant odor.
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    Try prescription-strength topicals. If you have severe acne or acne that hasn't responded to over-the-counter products, you may need to talk to your doctor or dermatologist about a prescription-strength medication. Common prescription-strength ingredients include:
    • retinoids - prevent pores and hair follicles from being plugged, thereby reducing the occurrence of acne.[21]
    • dapsone (Aczone) - kills bacteria and prevents pores from becoming clogged.[22]
    • antibiotics - topical antibiotics kill bacteria on the skin to help treat current outbreaks and prevent future occurrences of acne. Common antibiotics include clinamycin with benzoyl peroxide (Benzaclin, Duac) and erythromycin with benzoyl peroxide (Benzamycin).
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    Take oral prescriptions. There are a number of oral medications that your doctor may prescribe to help treat severe acne outbreaks. These may include oral antibiotics (specifically tetracyclines), or combined oral contraceptives for women and adolescent girls.[23]
    • Talk to your doctor or dermatologist about whether an oral prescription may be right for your acne treatment plan.
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    Avoid known irritants. Many products cause acne outbreaks because of their ability to enter and clog pores in your skin. If you're prone to acne, you may want to avoid potential irritants, especially oily or greasy products. These may include cosmetics, hair styling products, and acne concealers.[24]
    • Instead of oil-based products, choose water-based products or those labeled noncomedogenic (meaning that they're not as likely to cause or worsen acne).
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    Be careful about what touches skin. Another easy way to reduce the occurrence of acne is to limit your skin's exposure to oil and sweat. This means keeping your hair out of your face, limiting your face's contact with a phone receiver or cellphone, and avoiding touching your face with dirty hands.[25] You may also need to limit or avoid wearing baseball caps, hats, and helmets, or at least wear a clean absorbent headband underneath.[26]


  • Follow all usual hygienic steps before and after removing the pimple.
  • This method will not work for acne.


  • Do not reuse dental floss or mouthwash that has been used for pimple removal. Discard any dental hygiene products that come into contact with your skin and blood/pus.
  • Remember to wash your hands after removing the pimple.
  • Popping pimples, including removal by dental floss, is known to cause scarring. It is not recommended as a method of treating pimples.

Things You'll Need

  • Dental floss or dental tape
  • pH balanced facial cleanser
  • Clean running water

Sources and Citations

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Article Info

Categories: Acne Treatments