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Is There a Safe Way to Pop Pimples?

We’ve all done it but here’s why you should reconsider next time.
July 20, 2022

We’ve all been tempted to pop a pimple once or twice and maybe (most likely), we’ve even acted it on. Whether it’s mild acne like a blackhead or an inflamed whitehead, it’s hard to resist that ready-to-burst pimple on your face that’s practically calling your name to pop it. But, before you go for that satisfying pop, there are some things you should know.

It turns out that pimple popping isn’t just considered a no-no because it’s gross (let’s be real, it’s pretty nasty) can lead to some serious skin care woes, including even worse acne, acne scarring and more. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about pimple popping, including whether or not you should really be doing it yourself and how to create a routine to avoid breakouts in the first place.

What is Pimple Popping and Why Do Pimples Burst When You Pop Them?

Popping pimples is exactly what it sounds like — squeezing a zit with your fingers until it bursts. Pimples burst when you pop them because there is inflamed pus, bacteria and gunk trapped inside. 

You’ve likely scrolled past the disgusting yet somehow intriguing pimple popping videos on social media and you’ve almost certainly been tempted to do it to your own face. The reason why is because there is something so satisfying about popping pimples and visibly removing a blackhead or whitehead from the skin. 

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Is it Healthy to Pop Your Pimples?

This should come as no surprise, but the answer is no and there is a very good reason for this. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), squeezing your blemishes may seem simple and easy but it’s best left to a trained professional like a board-certified dermatologist — this process is known as extractions. When done incorrectly, popping pimples at home can lead to a worsening of the acne, serious acne scarring, more painful pimples and worse yet, an infection. The reason is that when you pop a pimple at home, you could wind up pushing the contents of the pimple deeper into your skin, even when you think you’re not. 

Instead, the much safer, smarter and healthier move is to see a trained, board-certified dermatologist for extractions as they are the ones who can effectively and completely remove pimples with the proper technique and instruments. The Cleveland Clinic agrees, noting that although popping a pimple yourself might feel immediately gratifying, seeing your dermatologist is much safer for your skin in the long run. And if that wasn’t enough to convince you not to pop your zits, the Mayo Clinic also advises against touching or picking at problem pimples, as doing so could trigger more breakouts and, as we said, lead to infection or scarring. 

When you do see a dermatologist, they might extract pimples using sterile tools to get the gunk out of a blackhead or a whitehead. Or, for larger, cystic acne, a dermatologist might inject the pimple with a corticosteroid, which is known to speed up healing and reduce incidents of inflammation. 

4 Skin Care Tips to Keep Pimples Away

Since the most tempting pimples to pop are blackheads and whiteheads, that’s what we’re going to be focusing on here. Thankfully, according to the AAD, blackheads and whiteheads are actually relatively easy to address and you can typically use over-the-counter products to do so. Try adopting a simple skin care routine with products formulated to clear pores and follow these tips to keep pimples at bay. 

1. Exfoliate to Unclog Pores

If exfoliating to remove dead skin cells is not part of your regular skin care routine, that could be your mistake. While it’s true you won’t want to be overly harsh with your skin, especially if you’re dealing with breakouts, you still want to remove dead skin cells and impurities to unclog pores. For sensitive skin, an acid toner like the L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Derm Intensives 5% Glycolic Acid Peeling Toner is a great option. This toner features glycolic acid to remove dead skin cells while soothing and moisturizing the skin for gentle, daily use.

If your skin isn’t sensitive and you want to reach for something stronger, try a weekly acid serum like the L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum. This serum quickly absorbs and works to exfoliate dead skin and build up to unveil a radiant complexion.

2. Cleanse to Remove Dirt and Impurities

In addition to exfoliating a few times a week (or as often as is best for your skin type), you should be cleansing your complexion with a cleanser every morning and evening — no skipsies. Along with double-cleansing, especially if you wear makeup to cover your acne

We recommend trying the L'Oréal Paris RevitaLift 3.5% Glycolic Acid Cleanser, which is formulated with glycolic acid and salicylic acid to effectively cleanse and exfoliate the skin while removing excess oils and targeting acne.

3. Practice Pampering Your Skin

Adding a detox face mask into your weekly skin care routine can help to keep your skin looking healthy. Once or twice a week, treat yourself to a clay face mask, like the L'Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Detox & Brighten Face Mask, which is formulated with purifying charcoal to remove impurities and unclog pores. All it takes is ten minutes and your skin will be better for it. 

4. Wear SPF

If you’re dealing with acne, make sure to add a moisturizer with SPF 30 or greater to your morning routine. We like the L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Triple Power Day Lotion SPF 30 since it combines a moisturizer and SPF step into one. Using SPF is crucial to help avoid dark spots and worsen acne scars.

Next: 6 Effective Tips For Washing Oily Skin

Edited by: Reece Andavolgyi, Photo credit: iStock

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