We’ve all had pimple emergencies and the urge to pop a pimple we shouldn’t have. That irritating zit that chooses to appear at the most prominent spot on our face and just before an important event. We squeeze at it with all our might, wishing that it’ll go away sooner. Unfortunately, it usually ends up looking worse.
We realize that it is impossible to ask everyone not to pop their pimples (they still will, regardless). Rather, we’d prefer to educate our readers on which pimples are suitable for popping and the correct way of doing it to reduce the risk of scarring. When done correctly, popping a pimple may actually help the healing process.
What Happens If I Pop a Pimple Incorrectly?
This is the real kind intention behind the good old advice never to pop your pimple. Most people simply do not know which pimples not to pop or how to do it correctly.
Many people make the mistake of popping pimples earlier than they should be popped. This pushes sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria deeper into the skin instead of towards the surface. A deeper pimple ensues, with more inflammation than before.
They also often squeeze their zits too hard with their fingernails, inflicting more collateral damage to the surrounding skin. Our fingers and nails are full of bacteria, potentially worsening the infection occurring in the pimple. The worst case scenario is what we term as a superinfection: multiple different bacteria infecting a pimple requiring strong antibiotics to treat with a high risk of complications.
Which Pimple Can I Pop?
You should only pop a pimple that is fully on the surface. You can tell that it is fully on the surface by looking out for a “whitehead” on the surface. The surrounding skin of the pimple should also look slightly swollen. An example of a suitable pimple (aka pustule) is shown below:
Which Pimple Should I Avoid Popping?
Avoid squeezing deep, large, painful bumps. If you don’t see the “whitehead”, abort the mission. Popping the pimple at this time does more harm than good. It is wiser to apply a topical medication such as adapalene, salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide and wait a couple of days.
How Should I Pop my Pimple?
- Get ready the instruments needed: a comedone extractor and some cotton-tipped Q-tips.
- Disinfect and wash your hands thoroughly to reduce the risk of introducing more germs into your pimple.
- Wash your face with lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser. While cleansing, use a wet washcloth to gently massage your skin to dislodge dead skin cells. This will make the extraction easier.
- Dry your skin gently before attempting extraction. Wet skin increases the risk of skin tearing and injury.
- Center the opening of the comedone extract on the “whitehead”, press it down and move it across the bump. This has to be done with very gentle pressure, and repeated no more than two times. This should release the contents of the pimple.
- If the pimple still feels swollen, you may use two Q-tips to gently press at its base to express out the remaining gunk trapped within. This is much less traumatizing than using your fingernails or fingers.
- Do apply some benzoyl peroxide 2.5% over the site to kill any remaining bacteria and help with the healing.
What Are The Alternatives to Popping my own Pimple?
When unsure, leave it to the pros with their pro tools and techniques!
- Getting it done professionally. Rather than fiddling with your own pimples, visit a qualified aesthetician or doctor to get your pimple properly assessed. They are going to do a much better job at extracting a pimple (if it’s suitable to do so). Regular facials with a light chemical peel (such as SkinLab’s Medical Peel Facial with I2PL) with your aesthetician will also reduce the amount of clogged pores and risk of pimples forming.
- Cortisone jabs. For deep, inflamed, painful pimples, it’s best to visit a doctor who may give you a cortisone shot straight into the pimple. Such pimples are painful and have a high risk of scarring, hence they should never be popped or squeezed.
- Applying over-the-counter medication. If you are unsure, it is much safer to just apply acne cream such as those containing benzoyl peroxide and leave the pimple alone. They may speed up the healing of your pimple and prevent the damage caused by incorrect squeezing.
We know how tempting it is to squeeze every pimple that appears. After reading this page, we hope you know when and how to proceed, and when to cease and desist. This will save your skin from accumulating unsightly marks and scars from acne.