Read This Before You Use PRID on That Pimple

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If you’ve never heard of PRID, you’re not alone. I’ve been a beauty editor for half of my life, and despite writing countless skin-health articles and skin-care product roundups, I’d never heard of it until TikTok started talking about it on a viral level—specifically as an acne spot treatment.

Tons of users on the clock app have posted reviews of how they use PRID to combat their peskiest blemishes; one video with over 100,000 likes shows PRID as a part of the elaborate method the user relies on to “get rid of painful, under-the-skin pimples overnight.” She scoops the brown salve out of its tin with a cotton swab, noting its “earwax vibes” (she’s not wrong), applying it to a pimple between her eyebrows and covering it with a small bandage overnight.

But while some people swear by PRID for zits, it’s not intended to treat acne. So is PRID the best-kept secret in skin care, or should you stick to the usual spot treatments? We asked dermatologists for their input.

Meet the experts:

  • Mina Amin, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles.
  • Brendan Camp, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.

What is PRID?

PRID gets all-caps billing because it’s actually an acronym. According to the packaging of the Hyland’s Naturals product, its full name is Pain Relief & Instant Drawing Salve. The burnt orange tin contains less than an ounce of goo that the label says “may help draw out splinters and ingrown hairs and temporarily relieve pain, itchiness and irritation from: boils, minor skin eruptions, bites, superficial cuts or scratches.”

But wait—what even is a drawing salve? It sounds so old-fashioned, doesn’t it? “Drawing salves, in general, work by moisturizing skin, which softens it,” says board-certified dermatologist Brendan Camp, MD. “By softening skin—especially thick, tough skin on the palms and soles—drawing salves may encourage foreign bodies to come out of the skin.”

So it’s understandable why someone might keep it in their toolbox should a splinter rear its ugly head, but its benefits for acne aren’t quite as obvious.

Why are people using PRID on acne?

While a pimple might be considered a “minor skin eruption,” PRID is not explicitly indicated for acne. However, because of some of PRID’s ingredients, it has gained the confidence of numerous people hoping to quickly clear a big zit.

Arnica, for example, is a botanical extract that has the ability to encourage healing, Dr. Camp says. “It is also thought to have anti-inflammatory properties and help with bruising,” he adds, noting that PRID’s calendula has similar properties. But it’s the sulfur in PRID that may be impressing zit-stricken users the most.

Sulfur is often prescribed by dermatologists to help with the appearance of acne,” says board-certified dermatologist Mina Amin, MD. “It has an antibacterial effect. It also helps control the production of excess sebum, which can often be associated with acne.”

Is PRID safe to use on acne?

If you ever visit your dermatologist for a deep, stubborn zit, there’s a very, very, very good chance they won’t break out the PRID. “PRID is not something I tell patients to use as an acne treatment,” Dr. Camp says. And there’s good reason for that.

“I would avoid using this on the face because all of these ingredients together can irritate the skin and lead to hyperpigmentation and scarring,” Dr. Amin warns. If you absolutely cannot resist the TikTok-hack lure, Dr. Camp insists that you patch test it on your arm first to see how your skin reacts.

But potential irritation isn’t the only reason to not use PRID on a pimple. There are simply more effective options out there.

Pimple patches work by drawing moisture out of the skin through the use of hydrocolloid, which also creates a healing environment,” Dr. Camp says. Furthermore, “Spot treatments, like sulfur, benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid can be used to target individual pimples.”

Dr. Amin is a big fan of CeraVe Acne Control Gel With AHA & BHA because of its glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids, and she also recommends Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatment as a benzoyl peroxide option. “If you’re looking for a product with sulfur like in the salve, try Murad Rapid Relief Acne Sulfur Mask,” she says.

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