A toothbrush with toothpaste sits on a sink in Arlington, Virginia, 17 July 2007. (AFP / Saul Loeb)

Health experts warn that applying toothpaste on pimples can irritate your skin

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

A post has been shared hundreds of times in multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter which claim that applying toothpaste on acne spots can help reduce its size. The claim is misleading; dermatologists warn toothpaste can irritate your skin as it is not designed to be applied directly to your face.

The post was shared here on Facebook on October 10, 2018. It has been shared more than 280 times.

Below is a screenshot of the misleading post:

screenshot of the misleading post

Part of the post’s Thai-language caption translates to English as: “#NewDimensionofApplyonAcne I heard that toothpaste can deflate acne, so we tried it on our model. The result is acne has reduced in size. Like obviously, just applying the toothpaste on acne.”

The post was published alongside four photos: the first is a branded toothpaste, and the other three are a series of photos that appear to show the gradual decrease of a pimple on a model’s forehead.

A similar claim was also shared on Facebook here, here, here, here and here in Thai and here, here and here in English. 

The claim is misleading; health experts warn that some ingredients in toothpaste can irritate the skin.

On January 16, 2020, the British Association of Dermatologists tweeted: “FALSE! Toothpaste does include anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredients, but it can be irritating to the skin and causes severe discolouration. You should instead use targeted acne treatments which are safe to apply to the skin.”

This October 14, 2019 report by the Cleveland Clinic, a US-based academic medical center, also says that toothpaste is “not intended to be put directly on your face”.

Below is the screenshot of the article:

Screenshot of the article

It reads, in part: “Many toothpastes contain ingredients like alcohol or baking soda that may help dry out a pimple. But, toothpaste also contains other ingredients that aren’t intended to be put directly on your face. She cautions that using toothpaste to treat a pimple could possibly irritate your skin.”

Several of Thai-language Facebook posts, such as this and this, mentions “Nop-Kao” toothpaste as an effective acne remedy.

Kru Tip, a representative for “Nop-Kao”, told AFP via phone on March 9, 2020, that while some people have used the toothpaste for curing acne, the main purpose of the toothpaste is to improve the oral health and reducing bad breath.

“The toothpaste is made from many herbs that can protect your teeth and gum,” she said.