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Chamomile Tea On Cystic Pimples: Does It Work? We Investigate The Helpful Hack

Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
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When you feel a blemish brewing, you might pull out all the stops (Ice! Turmeric! Apple cider vinegar!) to zap the pimple in its tracks. But what about those deep, painful spots that never actually come to a head? Do those cystic pimples respond to DIY? 

There have been some whispers (and by whispers, we mean TikTok hacks and Reddit threads) that chamomile tea can be right for the job. So we investigated: Can pressing chamomile tea bags on cystic pimples shrink them in size? Here's what experts have to say about the notorious sleepy-time tea.

Can chamomile tea shrink cystic pimples?

Well, yes and no.

It's been around for centuries, used as an age-old remedy for treating wounds and skin irritations in traditional medicine. And with its impressive anti-inflammatory properties to help soothe angry, inflamed skin, no wonder the ingredient has been touted for calming acne. Joyce Park, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and global dermatology ambassador of bareMinerals, certainly agrees: "When used in topical skin care products, chamomile can help calm and soothe the skin," she tells mbg.

But cystic pimples become a stickier subject—because those painful lesions lie deep within the skin rather than showing on the surface. Anecdotally, chamomile seems to work for a select few, which is what you might have seen on Reddit and the like. "The bumps are magically gone," one thread reads. There's even a clinical trial showing how chamomile's flavonoids and essential oils can penetrate below the skin's surface into the deeper skin layers. Pretty promising for those deep lesions, no? But according to Park, much more research is needed before chamomile becomes a viable treatment. "In cystic acne, the inflammation is deep, and I doubt chamomile applied to the top layer of skin can help clear it completely," she says. "Also, putting tea bags on inflamed skin could worsen skin sensitivities." 

So while pressing on some chamomile tea could help, it might not shrink the deep-seated cyst entirely. And it should by no means be your only plan of action; in fact, cystic acne should always be treated by a dermatologist, and the very worst thing you can do for cystic breakouts is to touch, squeeze, or try to pop the lesions.


The takeaway. 

The verdict? Sure, chamomile might soothe the skin, but be careful you're not doing more harm than good: Piping-hot tea bags can irritate your skin further, as does poking and prodding the area. While the research looks promising for calming angry, inflamed papules and pustules on the skin's surface, cystic acne requires a bit more of a deeper dive—which should always be done by a derm. While you may panic-grab for any spot treatment you can find in your kitchen (it happens!), you might want to identify what your breakouts are trying to tell you before slathering on—cystic acne and DIY might not be the best match.

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