It never fails; a pimple appears right before a big event. You’ve heard popping pimples on your face is a bad idea. But really, how bad is it?
Is It Ever OK to Pop a Pimple?
Ideally, no. Try not to give in to the temptation of popping pimples on your face. Here’s why:
- You may force pus from the pimple deeper into your skin, which can lead to even more acne.
- The area might get infected by the bacteria on your hands.
- Popping pimples on the face can lead to scarring and pitting.
- Popping pimples on the face delays the healing process.
- Topical medicine or antibiotics are usually better acne treatments.
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Is There Any Benefit to Popping Pimples?
Popping pimples on your face can bring relief and help you look and feel better. However, letting a dermatologist do it is best. They are doctors with special training in dealing with skin problems.
Techniques dermatologists use to get rid of pimples
- Acne extraction. Doctors wear gloves and use special, sterile equipment to get rid of pimples. They may need to exfoliate your skin first.
- Injection with a corticosteroid. A doctor injects acne cysts or nodules with a corticosteroid to speed healing. This process also reduces scarring.
- Incision and drainage. A dermatologist will use a sterile needle or blade to open the blemish and drain it.
Is There a Safe Way to Pop a Pimple?
Let’s be honest: Sometimes, resisting popping pimples on your face is hard. If you’re determined to pop a pimple at home, at least take the following steps:
- Wait until the pimple looks ready to burst on its own. It will have a firm white or yellow middle.
- Before you try popping a pimple, apply warm compresses (a washcloth soaked in warm water) several times a day. The moist heat brings the pus to the surface, which may pop the pimple on its own.
- If the compresses don’t do the trick, sterilize a needle with rubbing alcohol.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Wash your face with a mild cleanser, then pat dry with a clean towel.
- Wrap your fingers in a clean tissue or put on a pair of medical gloves.
- That will prevent your hand’s bacteria from further infecting the pimple. It will keep you from spreading the bacteria in the pus. (You should wash your hands again when you’re done, just in case.)
- Insert the needle gently into the middle of the whitehead and allow the pus to drain.
- If it doesn’t drain, gently push down on either side (not on top) of the whitehead to release the pus.
One caveat: Never try to pop large nodules or cysts. Swollen, painful lumps under the skin’s surface need a dermatologist’s care.
How Can I Help a Pimple Heal?
Sometimes a pimple pops by accident. No matter how it happened, you might wonder: Is there a way I can care for the skin to help it heal?
- Don’t touch your face. Picking at your acne can slow the healing process. Your hands carry bacteria, which can cause infection.
- Ice it. To reduce the pain and inflammation, ice the problem area for five to 10 minutes. Use an ice cube wrapped in a towel. Repeat every 10 minutes or so for about an hour.
- Try topical treatments. There are many over-the-counter acne medicines that work well on most acne.
Call a dermatologist if you don’t see improvement in a few weeks or if your acne is getting worse. You may need more specialized treatment. The good news is that there is treatment available for all types of acne.
KidsHealth.org, Should I Pop My Pimple? Link
American Academy Dermatology, Pimple Popping: Why Only a Dermatologist Should Do It, Link
American Academy of Dermatology, How to Treat Deep, Painful Pimples, Link
Medical News Today, Pimple Popping: Should You Do It? Link
MedicineNet, What to Do After Popping a Pimple? Link
Connect with UPMC
The UPMC Department of Dermatology diagnoses, treats, and manages numerous hair, skin, and nail conditions and diseases. We care for common and uncommon conditions, and our treatments include both surgical and nonsurgical options. We operate several specialty centers for various conditions. The UPMC Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center is a comprehensive dermatologic laser facility, offering a full range of cosmetic services and procedures. With UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we offer a Skin Cancer Program that provides complete care from screenings, diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. Find a dermatology provider near you.