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Is Popping a Pimple All That Bad? Read This Before You Pop Your Next Pimple

What happens when you pop a pimple? A pimple is the result of a clogged pore. Pores can be clogged with excess oil, dead skin cells, bacteria, product residue, or dirt.

Read on

Listen, we’ve all been there - face to face with an angry pimple that is begging us to pop it.

But, pimple popping is sort of the forbidden fruit of skincare as it’s frequently discouraged by dermatologists.

But why is that? Is it ever okay to pop a zit? What really happens to the skin when you get that satisfying pop? Let’s find out!

What happens when you pop a pimple?

A pimple is the result of a clogged pore. Pores can be clogged with excess oil, dead skin cells, bacteria, product residue, or dirt.

When a pimple is popped, you’re interfering with the skin’s natural healing process of dealing with the blocked pore. By squeezing a pimple you’re forcing the contents to break open the skin.

You also risk scarring, infection, and may cause more pimples.

By popping a pimple, you’ve created a wound (that is vulnerable to bacteria) that the body will have to work harder to heal.

Dangers of pimple popping

A few things might result from attempting to pop pimples.

  • Worsening the pimple: Attempting to pop a pimple could cause it to grow larger, swollen, painful, and far more noticeable.
  • Infection: Popping a pimple leaves an open wound on the face that is vulnerable to bacteria and infection.
  • Scarring: The pressure used to pop a pimple can damage your skin underneath which may cause scarring.
  • Post pimple discoloration: By creating a wound, the body may react by creating excess melanin, which can cause discoloration/hyperpigmentation.  

When is it okay to go for the ‘pop’?

If you absolutely must pop, here are some tips. If you have to work hard at digging and squeezing in order to pop a pimple, then it should be left alone.

The only time you’re probably less likely to scar or worsen a blemish is if the pimple is right at the surface and force is not required to release it. (However, it’s still not recommended.)

If you want to play pimple roulette at least ask yourself this: “Is the pimple ‘ripe for the picking’ or do I have to unearth it?” If you can’t pop it gently, then hands-off. You risk worsening the situation by trying to force a pop.

When you should leave it alone

There are some pimples that should just never be messed with. If a pimple lingering under the surface of your skin and shows no sign of surfacing -- don’t even think about trying to pop it.

Pimples that are deep below the surface of the skin are often called ‘blind pimples’ and are notoriously difficult to get rid of. One of the fastest ways to worsen a blind pimple is trying to pop one.

Learn more: How to Bring a Pimple to a Head

  • If your pimple is red, swollen, and painful, don’t try to pop it.
  • If your pimple is under the surface of the skin and is a nodule, or a cystic pimple, don’t try to pop it, it’s not going to work.
  • If you squeeze and it’s painful, stop!
  • If you squeeze and it begins to bleed, hands-off!

Alternatives to pimple poppin’

If now you’re less likely to go to town on a poor little pimple but are wondering what else you can do -- we’ve got your back. Here are some alternatives to popping a pimple:

  • Ice it: Using ice in 30-second increments for up to 5 minutes can help lower inflammation and cut the pimple off from its blood supply. This can help decrease the appearance too.
  • Try a pimple sticker: Hydrocolloid pimple stickers may help to draw a pimple to a head.
  • Try a warm compress: Similar to the pimple stickers, a warm compress encourages pimple drainage.

Prevent pimples from forming in the first place

Using a regular anti-acne treatment can help keep these clogged pores and pimples from ruining your day.

Strut Health physicians have created Strut Acne Formula which helps keep pores from keeping clogged in the first place. Avoid the pimple drama and try our prescription Tretinoin-containing anti-acne treatments.

If you’re ready for clear skin, complete a questionnaire-based online doctor's consultation to see if our anti-acne treatments are right for you.

If our doctors find this is a good fit for you, we’ll ship your prescription right to your doorstep.

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