pimple-nose

Why you shouldn’t pop your pimples — Really, you shouldn’t

Credit: Pixabay.

Popping pimples can be very tempting, but this is considered a bad idea by most dermatologists. Picking at your blemishes can spread infection and ultimately worsen your acne. It can also permanently scar your face. If you do insist on getting rid of the pimples, there are more hygienic and safe methods you should use — never do it with your bare hands, that’s for sure.

How pimples form

It helps the discussion if we first learn what causes blemishes.  It all starts in the hair follicles which contain the oil-secreting sebaceous glands. These glands are found the most on the face and scalp compared to other parts of the body, and there’s no coincidence why these areas are the most prone to pimples.

The glands’ function is to secrete oil to lubricate the hair, but when hair or skin dies the pores the oil oozes through are blocked. This creates an excess of oil in the pores which are forced by physics to expand under the skin in the shape of a water balloon. By this time, the skin looks red, puffy and infected.

When you squeeze a pimple, there’s a high risk of forcing debris of bacteria and dead skin deeper straight to the follicle. The follicle wall might rupture then and spill infected material into the dermis, which is the innermost layer of the skin. Even if you pull out a lot of that nasty goo, chances are infected material tunneled the dermis from below because of the pressure you exerted.

Popping pimples can lead to:

  • Scarring. This is quite rare and happens when you pick a pimple so deeply so that you would get a hole. It can still happen though when some people get carried overboard.
  • Scabs. A big white head pimple can ruin your morning, especially if a meeting is due but living with it may be better than the alternative: a nasty, crusty scab. This happens because the skin thickens or darkens to protect itself from injury. Unfortunately, brown spots or hyperpigmentation is harder to clear up than a pimple itself and can take months to get rid of.
  • Infection. In some cases, medical attention may be required.
  • Pain. Especially the big ones — those hurt like hell.
  • New pimples. The good from a squeezed pimple can block other pores and lead to the formation of new pimples.

A hands-off approach when it comes to your skin may be for the best, even though it might seem socially awkward not to.

How to pop a pimple the right way

Whiteheads will come away by themselves in about a week, which might seem like an eternity to a teenager. If you really insist, there are some safe methods you can use to get rid of some pimples.

Use two cotton swabs instead of your fingers, or better yet a sterilized needle. Wait for the pimple to come to a head, then squeeze with the cotton swabs. Stop squeezing when you see blood and then spot-treat the pimple by applying a tiny bit of hydrocortisone. Make sure you apply it only on the zit.

Before attempting anything, it’s important you thoroughly wash your hands and rub alcohol on your fingers to sterilize them. Always apply pressure gently so you don’t push debris down the follicle.

If you have a nuclear meltdown on your face, then you could visit a dermatologist. The doctor will use special tools like a cortisone shot or even lasers to extract your whiteheads and blackheads or drain a cyst.

If it’s a blind pimple — big red bumps under the skin– then there’s nothing you can do. Attempting to pop it will only make it worse as you can get the skin injured. Wait for it.

6 thoughts on “Why you shouldn’t pop your pimples — Really, you shouldn’t

  1. Brian

    Good article. at 60, I still get pimples. Clearasil works and so does any 10$ Benzoyl Peroxide cream. Wash your hair if you get pimples where the hair touches your skin. Move you hair away from you skin. Touching metals and oily metals in particularly seems to cause pimples. Notice how many kids who work on cars have lots of pimples.

    Squeezing pimples can easily force the collagen under your skin out and leave a permanent depression. On the other hand leaving a large painful white head is killing the skin, that’s why it turn white, actually clear. The white stuff is mostly white blood cells fighting the infection, not the infection.

    I have found that scratching the white head to open it with a disinfected bent short pin is the least damaging way to let the puss drain. Then it mostly comes out on own, and you wipe it away with a Clearasil coated tissue.

    The bent part of the pin should be only a little thicker than skin. I actually use push pins and pend the end 1/16 inch to a right angle. Make sure you disinfect them every time before use. The smallest whole will drain the puss.

    Well, that was too much sharing ;)

    Hope it helps.

  2. Catjaws

    I am in my mid sixties,and lately I have been getting a bumper crop of pimples on my nose. I wash my nose with a Dove style soap,and follow that up with a scrubbing with baking soda for exfoliation. I apply hydrogen peroxide daily to blemishes and let them get to the point that gentle pressure drains them. Always follow up with hydrogen peroxide. I presently have no active pimples,so it works for me.

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