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Listerine Fights Blemishes

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Q. Several years ago I noticed that gum irritations healed more quickly after I used Listerine. I decided to try it on facial blemishes. If it is applied as soon as a blemish begins, the spot fades quickly without becoming large and offensive.

A. You are the second person who has told us that the Listerine mouthwash can speed blemish healing. We cannot explain why it might work, but it seems like a benign approach.

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Recently I had a patient (I am a community pharmacist) ask me about applying listerine to shingles lesions. She told me several of her friends had heard about it and tried it with success (decreased pain, rash appearance, etc). I told her I hadn't heard that before but with some precautions might be worth a try. She came back a week later reporting very good results with "significant" reduction in discomfort.

I've also had extremely good results with Listerine as an anti-blemish remedy. I have a theory (only a theory, I'm not a doctor, etc.) about it - the alcohol temporarily dissolves facial oil, allowing the antimicrobial essential oils to "mix in". The alcohol evaporates, leaving behind "treated" facial oil that continues to work to discourage bacterial growth for an extended period of time. For what it's worth.

In any case, it also seemed to work well to treat minor infections on my infant son's fingers - swelling and redness around small cuts that didn't respond to antibiotic ointment for a week (probably because he would immediately stick the fingers in his mouth, removing the bandage and the ointment) disappeared overnight when rubbed for a few seconds with Listerine on a cotton square. It didn't seem to cause him any discomfort, either, which was a concern I had going in.

I've never been much of an antiseptic user, so I can't compare it to iodine or other antiseptic options, but I'm now a big believer in the stuff for uses other than as a mouthwash.

I, too, tried Listerine for blemishes -- both the blue and amber color -- to see if I got the same results as others seemed to. I tried each one for about a month. I used a round cotton makeup pad and applied it all over my clean, just-washed face. I did that at night before I went to bed and in the morning when I didn't have to go out or wear makeup, so it was left on my skin either overnight or all day until I went to bed, when I washed my face and put it on again for the night.

I found that the color didn't make any difference -- they each gave me quite a number of tiny white bumps, in addition to whatever blemishes were already there. These were NOT whiteheads, but tiny white bumps. Unfortunately, being quite a while ago, I don't remember if the bumps were hard or soft. I tried the blue color first, as the store was out of the original amber color. After about 2 weeks I noticed the white bumps, so I stopped using it. It took more than a month for them to clear up. Then I tried the original amber color, assuming it was the blue dye that was the cause of the bumps. The amber color did the same thing. Again, it took more than a month for them to go away.

Unfortunately, it didn't work the same way for me as it did for others. Would be interested if anyone else had a similar experience, as I don't know why it would cause these tiny white bumps.

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