Patients often say that they never know if it’s ok to pop a pimple or they feel guilt when they admit to popping them! I remind patients that there are many reasons to consider popping a pimple, it’s just important to do it the right way to minimize the chances of scarring. Remember that studies have shown that acne can scar with or without popping pimples. Scarring is based more on how deep the inflammation associated with acne is- the deeper the inflammation and longer it lasts leads to a higher chance of scarring.
To pop your own pimples get a sense of whether or not it’s actually ready to go. Is it close to the surface? Do you see the opening of the pore it started in? If it’s not ready yet, use an acne spot treatment to encourage it to come to the surface for a few nights. Once it’s ready, take two Q tips or cotton tips and place each on opposite sides of the pimple. Then gently apply pressure towards the center. Reposition them at different angles to help the process. By using Q tips and not your hands or a device, then you are less likely to traumatize your skin in the process of extracting your acne. If your acne is close and hurts and really isn’t coming out, if you can see your dermatologist to have the spot poked or incised or injected it helps.
Most people pop a pimple and then smother it with acne cream afterwards. I understand why. However the problem is that most acne creams work by drying or exfoliating the skin. This is great before you pop a pimple to get it ready to pop. After you pop it- it’s technically no longer a pimple. It’s now a wound that needs to heal. The same way you wouldn’t smother acne cream on your knee after you scrape it is the same reason you shouldn’t put it on your wound after popping a pimple! It will inflame the skin, prevent it from healing, keep it oozy and crusty and just a mess! After popping a pimple, gently cleanse with soap and water, blot dry and either apply Vaseline or an antibiotic ointment to help the skin heal and prevent scarring. By keeping it moist and healing it heal the chances of discoloration and potential pitted scars is reduced.