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Myth or fact: Does toothpaste erase acne?

Posted on April 6, 2023 in Healthy You

toothpaste question mark

Can toothpaste pull double duty as a teeth cleaner and acne eraser? If you believe the old wives’ tale, then a dab of toothpaste on a pimple might zap the zit overnight. But a closer look shows that toothpaste may do more harm than good.

Toothpaste for acne: How it started

Toothpaste used to contain a substance called triclosan to reduce gum disease. Because triclosan was used to fight the bad bacteria that leads to gum disease, people also wondered if the ingredient might also kill the bacteria that causes acne.

In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration banned triclosan as an ingredient in toothpaste and other oral health products.1 But people still link toothpaste to helping eliminate acne because toothpaste contains drying ingredients that can dry out pimples and reduce their appearance on skin.

What the experts say about using toothpaste for pimples

No scientific evidence supports the use of toothpaste as an effective tool against acne. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) also has a clear stance against using toothpaste for acne. The AAD recommends that people avoid using toothpaste on skin, as toothpaste typically contains ingredients including hydrogen peroxide, menthol and baking soda that can irritate your skin and clog pores.2 

Still reaching for toothpaste for acne? Follow these tips:

If you’re still using toothpaste to help with the occasional pimple, follow these tips:

  • Pick paste, not gel: Gel toothpastes aren’t as good at drying out the zit.
  • Choose a natural toothpaste: Natural toothpastes contain ingredients like essential oils or witch hazel, which may be more soothing on skin.
  • Avoid whitening toothpastes: Whiteners can irritate skin.
  • A little goes a long way: Apply a thin layer of toothpaste over the zit and do not rub it in.
  • Give it time: Let the toothpaste sit on the zit overnight, or at least 1 hour. If the toothpaste makes your skin burn or itch, remove it immediately.
  • Don’t over do it: Toothpaste is not a long-term pimple remedy. If acne keeps popping up, it’s time to see your doctor.

The best way to bust blemishes

If your acne won’t go away, you need to understand what’s causing it. Scheduling an appointment with a dermatologist will help you understand the root issue, and your doctor can recommend both over-the-counter and prescription medications that have proven benefits for treating acne.

Also, don’t forget that healthy hydration and dietary habits help both your skin and oral health, so take stock of your eating and drinking habits. Drinking more water and eating a nutrient-filled diet will free up your toothpaste to do what it does best – clean your teeth.


1. Good RX Health
2. American Academy of Dermatology Associates
3. How to apply toothpaste to pimples