How Can I Deal with Dry Skin and Pimples?

N. Madison

Dealing with dry skin and pimples can be difficult. On one hand, you need to dry up the pimples, but on the other, you have to avoid over-drying your skin. In some cases, you may deal with this by using a topical acne medicine in the evenings and then applying a moisturizing cream during the day. Alternatively, you may use an acne medicine that is taken orally as well as a non-oily moisturizer for balance. You also might choose to use a topical acne medicine just in the areas affected by pimples in order to avoid over-drying other parts of your face.

Various topical acne medications contain different active ingredients.
Various topical acne medications contain different active ingredients.

If you are dealing with dry skin and pimples, you may opt to use a two-fold treatment. Such a treatment may include a topical medicine for drying pimples that you can use during the evening hours and a non-oily moisturizer that won’t cause pimples during the day. With this type of treatment, the moisturizer balances the effects of the drying acne medicine.

Toothpaste can be effective at removing pimples.
Toothpaste can be effective at removing pimples.

The right cleansing routine may also prove important when you are dealing with both dry skin and pimples. Often, people think they should use a cleanser that removes oil from the skin when they are dealing with pimples. Unfortunately, however, this sometimes strips the skin of its natural oils and encourages it to produce more oil to compensate, making acne worse. Instead, a mild cleanser is a better option for dealing with dry skin and pimples. A moisturizing cleanser that does not cause pimples may help as well — such products often are labeled "non-comedogenic."

Sometimes an oral medicine that treats acne is a better option for dealing with pimples and dry skin than a topical medication. Such a medication can work on the problem from the inside outward instead of further drying the skin from the outside. You can then use a non-comedogenic moisturizer to keep the surface of your skin from becoming overly dry. You will usually have to visit a dermatologist to get an effective oral medication for acne.

If you have just a few pimples or occasional breakouts, you may apply a topical treatment just to the pimples, avoiding the rest of your skin. This method is probably not the best choice if you have a lot of pimples or you get them on a frequent basis. Additionally, if you use this method too often, you might irritate the skin over the pimple and cause discoloration.

Many remedies are available to treat pimples.
Many remedies are available to treat pimples.

Discussion Comments


@DylanB – I had dry skin with pimples, and my dermatologist put me on doxycycline. It's an antibiotic that is known for clearing up acne.

He told me that his patients had experienced more success from using this antibiotic than any other type of medication. It took a few months, but it really did clear up my skin.

I used a topical cream formulated for people with acne and dry skin, too. I think that the antibiotic did the majority of the work, though.

A dermatologist probably won't put you on birth control pills, but they also do wonders for your skin. Since this would be something that you could take long-term, it would be a good option for someone with dry skin and pimples.


What kind of medication would a dermatologist prescribe for someone with dry skin and acne? I'm guessing it wouldn't be a topical cream to use all over the face, since that would make the dry skin worse.

I'm probably going to have to see a dermatologist about my acne problem. I can't use benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid on my face, because it makes my skin tight and red, and it usually peels, too.


Skin products for dry skin are often so greasy or thick that they can cause breakouts. It's really hard for a person with dry skin and lots of pimples to find a balance in their skin care regimen.


I have dry skin on my face, but I also have problems with acne. The best facial cleanser I have found is also the gentlest.

I was surprised when my doctor told me that I needed to be using a gentle cleanser in spite of the pimples. He recommended one that barely even lathers when I use it.

It leaves a little moisturizing residue behind on purpose. I could wipe this off with a towel, but I leave it so that my dry skin can get relief.

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