First Aid for Your Face: How to Treat Scars, Burns, and Pimples

A daily skincare routine can help keep your face looking youthful and healthy, but minor scrapes, burns, or occasional breakouts are unfortunately inevitable. Try these tips to speed up healing and prevent scarring, plus learn when you should seek professional medical care.

Problem: Minor Scrape or Cut


  • Clean the wound immediately with water.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment and cover with a bandage.
  • Wash it daily and keep it moist at all times.
  • Apply ointment and change the bandage daily.

When to See a Doctor:

  • If the wound resulted from a bite, is longer than a half inch, or is deep enough to expose fat, muscle, or bone.
  • You don't see healing/scabbing 3-4 days after the wound occurred.
  • You experience signs of infection, such as fever or increased pain, or if the wound becomes inflamed or emits puss.

Problem: Minor Burn


  • Apply a cold compress to ease pain.
  • Wash the burn gently with soap and water twice a day.
  • Cover with a clean bandage each time you wash the burn.

When to See a Doctor:

  • If you have any burns on your face
  • If the burn worsens, becomes more painful, or doesn't start healing after a few days
  • For any 2nd-degree burn more than 2 ½ inches in diameter or any 3rd-degree burn

Problem: Pimple or Acne Breakout


  • Don't pick at or squeeze the blemish.
  • Spot treat it with an over-the-counter acne medication containing benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, or salicylic acid.
  • Cover it with an oil-free concealer or foundation.
  • Wash your face 1-2 times a day with a cleanser and moisturizer that are non-comedogenic and oil-free.
  • If your acne is worsening despite a good skincare routine or if the acne comes on suddenly.
  • You develop cystic acne, where the blemishes are large and filled with fluid.
  • If your acne embarrasses you and interferes with your life.

Tips for Dealing with Scars

Some wounds will leave a scar no matter how well you care for them while they're healing. Visiting a dermatologist who can map a plan for your particular scar is the best approach, but here are some things that can help speed up the healing process at home.

  • Apply an over-the-counter ointment like Mederma or one that contains zinc or vitamin E. You can also buy silicone gel sheets to cover the scar and promote healing.
  • Load up on beta-carotene (250,000 IU daily) or vitamin A (15,000 IU daily) for a week after an injury to help promote healthy scar tissue. (Don't do this without a doctor's supervision if you have liver problems, are pregnant, or are trying to conceive.)
  • Take vitamin C (1,000 mg twice a day) to stimulate your body's ability to make collagen and form new tissue.
  • Always use sunscreen with a high SPF. 



Sources: "Acne." Hall Health Primary Care Center: University of Washington. Web.  June 06, 2009. "Wounds." University of Maryland Medical Center. Web. 2006 "Hot Tips: First Aid for Burns." University of Rochester Medical Center. Web. December 8, 2010.