Once And For All: Should You Pop A Pimple? We Asked A Dermatologist

July 6, 2015 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

It’s one of those beauty questions that many of us don’t really want answered because it could mean changing some bad behavior. But if you truly want clear skin, you should probably know whether or not it’s in your skin’s best interest to pop pimples at-home or leave them alone.

Dr. Jill S. Waibel, dermatologist and owner of the Miami Dermatology & Laser Institute, is here to give us the cold, hard truth. “Pimples can be extremely frustrating to deal with, and a lot of people turn to popping unwanted pimples in hopes that they’ll disappear more quickly,” Waibel says. “However, popping your pimples is one of the worst decisions you can make when struggling with acne as it can cause even more frustrating skin complications.” So once and for all, the answer to the age old question of whether you should pop a pimple is a resounding NO.

Just what is it about popping zits that makes it such a poor decision? For one thing, Waibel says, many of us are unaware of the true nature of pimples and how much more damage we do when we opt to perform amateur surgery in the privacy of our bathrooms. “One reason you don’t want to pop your pimples is because when you do, you’re creating an opening in your skin, which paves a smooth path for an infection to get in and begin building up,” Waibel says. “What most people don’t know is that pimples occur under your skin, not on the surface, so when you press down to pop your pimple, you’re actually creating another skin issue that will take twice as long to heal. Lastly–and most importantly–popping your pimples can lead to permanent damage to your skin like scarring. Fortunately, there are dermatologists who can perform laser treatments to help reduce the appearance of acne scarring and help get your skin back to a better condition.”

With that said, we all know darn well we’re going to pop an occasional pimple anyway, so here are Waibel’s recommendations on how to do it in a way that minimizes the chances of damaging your skin.

1. Prep your face first. Wash your face thoroughly to help fight off an infection.

2. Don’t use your fingers. “Most people will use two fingers and press down on the pimple, which forces the pressure to go toward the pimple itself,” Waibel explains. “Instead, use a comedone extractor as it has a flat head to extract blackheads and a loop for white heads. By using this tool, you allow the pimple to erupt out, which makes your skin much less prone to infection and scarring.”

3. Visit a dermatologist. “The best and easiest way to fight the urge to pop your pimples is by visiting a board-certified dermatologist who can help you determine a healthy skin care regimen and give you advice on how to fight off these stubborn pimples before they even occur,” Waibel says.

For more beauty tips, check out the best drugstore skincare dupes and 10 at-home remedies to try when zits pop up out of nowhere.


Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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