How to Pop a Pimple

Here at Almond Clear, we get lots of questions about popping zits. People want to know when it’s safe to pop and how to do it, and I can’t blame them for asking. We all know that we’re not supposed to pop our pimples, but we all do it anyway sometimes, so the advice to never squeeze your blemishes seems pretty unrealistic. 

When is it okay to apply a little pressure to a blemish, and when is it important to heed the advice to let pimples be? Here’s the low down.

First and most importantly, it depends on what kind of pimple we’re talking about. If you have a little blackhead or whitehead that’s not red or inflamed, then in general, you’re fine to gently get the gunk out. To do this, use a clean blemish extractor (a handled tool with a hollow circle at the end), and after you’re done, be sure to dab the skin with a little topical acne medication to prevent inflammation.

Now, what about when a bigger pimple with white or yellow pus visible near the surface of the skin? The best advice is to proceed with extreme caution. Try using the sharp side of a clean blemish extractor to puncture the area where pus is visible, then gently use the circular part of the extractor to press down on the puss-filled area. If the material comes out easily then congrats, mission accomplished! 

But if nothing wants to come out then STOP. Take a deep breath and accept that you’re done trying for the day. Whether you succeeded in popping the blemish or not, you should follow up by applying an acne gel, serum or cream. 

Okay, so what about if you’re dealing with a deep, inflamed pimple that hasn’t come to a head? I think you know the answer- keep your hands off! Squeezing pimples that aren’t ready has all sorts of unpleasant results. 

First of all, if your blemish hasn’t come to a head yet (meaning that the pus isn’t visible near the surface of the skin), then you’re very unlikely to be able to pop the pimple. What’s more likely is that you’ll explode the pore walls beneath the surface of the skin, causing pus, bacteria, and a clog of dead skin cells and oil to spread into the surrounding tissue. This will make your blemish even more angry-looking and will increase the time that it takes to heal. 

You could also end up with a cluster of pimples in the area that you tried to pop, or this blemish could come back to haunt you over and over again in the same place because the pore wall has been permanently damaged.

Finally, when you squeeze a pimple that’s not ready, you create a lot of inflammation, and longer-term, inflammation and irritation results in two types of scarring: ice pick scars, and dark marks called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Ice pick scars (indented pockmarks) can only be improved with expensive laser treatments or microdermabrasion. Dark marks can often be reduced with the right topical treatment, but it takes months for them to fully fade. If you don’t want to deal with scarring, then keep your hands off of pimples that aren’t ready! 

To wrap it up, just try to remember this basic rule: It’s okay to use a clean blemish extractor on a zit that’s “ready to go.” But if you have to try really hard to pop a pimple then you shouldn’t be messing with it! Dab the zit with a little acne medication and leave it for another day. 

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