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Is Popping Pimples On Your Own Good or Bad?

Is popping pimple bad? Acne popping can be so satisfying. But how can you do it properly?

Acne is a relatively common skin disease that not only affects teens but also young adults and adults. It is generalized as a problem of adolescence that primarily affects females, but that couldn’t be far from the truth. While acne presents itself in different forms at all ages for all genders. The different types of acne are blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pimples, pustules, nodules, and cysts. Each type is unique but the one thing they hold in common is how much everyone wants to pop them. 

So when do pop a pimple? Popping a pimple is an art, of sorts and when done properly, it is completely fine and not as dangerous as it is made to sound. However, the issue arises when it is done improperly. Since it is not common knowledge how to pop a pimple safely and hygienically, almost everyone does it wrong. This increases the risk of infection, which then worsens your acne. This is why doctors recommend against popping a pimple. We understand that it is quite hard for people to resist the urge to pop their pimples. But do remember that the satisfaction from popping a pimple is temporary while the consequences can be quite permanent, or at least, last a long time.  

If a pimple looks just too tempting to resist popping, book an appointment with an aesthetician or an asethetic physician to pop it for you. 

types of acne and pimple problems

What Happens When You Pop Your Pimple? 

Popping acne can make it worse if you’re not doing it correctly. That is something everyone can agree with just based on their own experiences. The main concept of popping a pimple is to extract the pus. The pimple usually contains dead skin cells, skin’s natural oil-sebum, and even bacteria. When squeezing the pus out, it is possible that the contents are pushed down deeper into the skin, hence, spreading the infection to the rest of the layers of the skin 

It is never advised to pop your pimple by yourself, keeping in mind to especially avoid nodules and cysts, acne that is deep below the surface of the skin. Popping them can spread the infection and irritate the skin even further.  

If you still can’t help it but continue to pop, your pimple may take longer to heal, leading to long-term or permanent consequences such as: 

#1 Acne Scarring 

Popping acne and irritating the skin around the acne is not recommended, and the most common consequence to this bad habit is permanent acne scarring. Since popping a pimple disturbs the integrity of the skin, it requires the skin to undergo a wound healing process to treat the trauma. The wound healing process can be further slowed by skin irritation due to constant picking, which can leave scars and scabs that may persist for some time.  

Scarring occurs when the wound healing process is insufficient. This leads to tissue loss which consequently results in the pitting of the skin. Essentially, these pits are depressed scars that negatively impact not only the texture of the skin but also may have excess pigmentation of the skin. 

types of acne scars and the treatment and pimple scar removal

#2 Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) 

Besides pitting, the skin may develop PIH or dark spots after an acne breakoutAlthough hyperpigmentation may not always be permanent, it can take from months to years to fade. Using abrasive treatments or picking will also slow the healing process. The more inflammation there is, the more prominent the discoloration will be. Some acne marks never fade over time. 

These brown or red pimple marks occur more frequently and with more severity in people with darker skin tones. However, this does not mean people with lighter skin tones are not prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. 

The only way to prevent these dark spots from developing on the skin is to avoid popping and picking pimples, at all costs. No matter how tempting it seems, it is best to either avoid popping acne or let a medical aesthetic practitioner remove the pimple instead. Alternatively, you can also treat it with medications or acne treatments. 

#3 Popping Pimple Can Lead To More Infection 

People generally believe that when they pop a pimple, the pus will come out of the top and that the pimple will disappear. However, that is not the case. Popping a pimple can sometimes push the pus into deeper layers of the skin, spreading the infection further into the skin. As a result of trapping infection and bacteria into the deeper layers of the skin, the infection may persist for a longer period of time, and as a result, acne may last longer.  

Moreover, continuously touching the face raises the risk of infection. When this is paired with broken skin and bacteria trapped deep within the layers, the risk of acne scarring increases significantly.  

Popping pimples involves a lot of face touching. When you don’t thoroughly wash your hands or wear a glove before bursting the pimples, the chances of you spreading the bacteria from the clogged pore to the nearby pores when the pimple is popped is much higher, resulting in more acne breakouts. 

Which Pimple to Pop? Although You Shouldn’t.  

The safest way for your skin is to let your pimple heal naturally. If you can’t wait and need to pop the pimple, do it properly to avoid further worsening of your acne. The first step for popping a pimple properly is to assess which pimple can even be popped. When assessing which blemishes to pop, blackheads are almost good to remove by yourself because they are ready to pop. It is good to pop this non-inflamed acne early before they develop into red pimples, which may be more complex to remove later on. 

An acne type that is commonly popped is a pustule which, as the name implies, contains pus. A pustule has a red or pink inflamed border and a yellow or white center. The pus in this pimple is an accumulation of dead white blood cells with fungus or bacteria in infected tissues located beneath the epidermis.  

Pus is indeed visually disgusting, yet this is a sign that your white blood cells are present in your body to combat infection caused by bacteria or fungus. This type of blemish is easiest to squeeze as they have a wide opening to the surface of the skin known as the “head” and their contents are easily visible.  

Why You Should Not Pop Your Pimples Unnecessary 

If a pimple hurts or is under the skin, it's not ready. When it is sensitive to touch like cystic acne, leave it alone. Usually, if the pimple doesn't have a head yet and is still under the skin, trying to extract it can not only be very painful, but you can cause irritation and even infection that will make it harder for the pimple to heal. Picking at a pimple with unclean hands or long nails increases the risk of tearing the skin.  

Worse yet, if you really traumatize the skin, you risk scarring that is likely to be permanent. Give it time to develop a head, or try treating with a topical acne product instead.  

What is the right way to pop your pimple?  

There is a right technique to pop your pimple safely. Doing it yourself is risky and is not recommended. Doctors and well-trained aestheticians wear gloves and lance a pimple with a sterile needle and follow all guidelines to ensure proper and hygienic extractions. But if you’re still determined to do it, here’s what you need to do;  

  1. Don't poke too early. Wait until your pimple has a firm white head. That means the pus is close to the surface and ready to be drained. 
  2. Wash your hands and face thoroughly with warm water, soap, and ensure your fingernails are scrubbed clean as well. 
  3. Use a match or lighter to sterilize a straight pin. Once it has cooled, wipe the pin with rubbing alcohol. Swab the zit with alcohol and apply some to your fingers, too. 
  4. Dry your fingers and wrap them with a clean tissue. 
  5. Place the pin parallel to the surface of your skin, and gently pierce the very tip of the zit's white center. 
  6. Softly squeeze the pimple with your fingers or a cotton swab. Gently press around the white tip of the zit. Stop popping pimples if the pus doesn't come out easily! 
  7. Add more alcohol (it may sting a little) or a tiny amount of antibiotic to the now-deflated blemish. 

Leave Pimple Popping to the Medically-Trained Professionals 

When you choose to pop a pimple by yourself, it is important to extract the pus completely. However, with larger pimples, complete drainage may not occur, and that can spread the infection and abscess. Treating them even with antibiotics alone isn’t enough. Instead, full drainage should be performed. This is one of the main reasons why it is best to let a medically-trained aesthetician or a doctor pop the pimples that are large, causing discomfort and pain. There are multiple ways to safely pop a pimple based on the type of acne breakout and the severity of the acne. 

A medically-trained aesthetician or a doctor may perform extractions of whiteheads and blackheads using sterile equipment to prevent the spread of bacteria from the clogged pore to others, or from hands to the skin(2). Extractions are not permanent as these blackheads can reappear and will need to be repeated in the future. This procedure may be preceded by an exfoliation using chemical peels to make extraction easier. It is important to remember that this is only performed when other methods of clearing acne have failed to produce positive results. This should be administered only by a medically-trained aesthetician or a doctor. 

In severe cases, acne popping may be performed using an injection needle or a tip of the blade, either of which may be used to create an incision to drain out whatever is inside the pimple or nodule. It is crucial to remember that none of these are long-term or permanent solutions to acne, but rather last-resort treatments for single cystic or nodular acne breakouts.  

Medical Pimple Extractions Clinic Pimples Acne Pustules Cystic

Other Acne Treatments That You Can Try  

Before opting for a professional extraction of acne to heal the blemish, it is recommended to try other topical and/or oral treatments. A number of over-the-counter treatments and other skincare products that contain benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, or glycolic acid can help treat acne. But these spot treatments may not be sufficient treatment for all acne. 

Additionally, if this acne treatment does not work, another option is to use a topical retinoid cream or take oral isotretinoin. These vitamin A derivatives are prescribed by doctors for treating acne and to combat frequent breakouts despite proper skincare. 

There are other alternatives such as RF micro-needling, chemical peels, and laser therapy that can help control active acne. In many cases, these treatments prove quite effective in treating not only active acne but also acne scarring and hyperpigmented spots seen in acne cases. 

Consult your physician for more information about acne concerns and what you can do to minimize acne breakouts. 

How to Prevent Acne 

Prevention is always better than cure. If acne treatments are not working, it is important to question the efficacy and potency of the treatment along with the skincare and hygiene of the person affected. To reduce acne breakouts, it is recommended to follow the following tips: 

  • Avoid touching the face as much as possible 
  • Do not pop any acne breakouts 
  • Clean the face with a gentle foam or gel cleanser 
  • Change pillow covers frequently 
  • Maintain a healthy diet 
  • Stay hydrated and get a proper night’s sleep.