Popping pimples – it’s one of those things that everybody tells you not to do, while all the time everybody does it, right? So why do they tell you not to? Is it just because of the eww factor? Or is it true that squeezing those nasty little zits just encourages more to grow?
The truth is that a lot depends on what you do and when and how you do it. It is possible to spread the infection over a greater area of your face or body, but it is also possible that squeezing may help the pimple to heal up faster.
As we all know, there are a lot of different types of pimple and the answers are not the same for all of them.
Whiteheads are the most tempting kind of pimple to pop. In many cases you can extract all of the pus, wash the area, swab with antiseptic and have a good chance of the pimple healing very fast. However, sometimes the infection remains and grows, and there is a risk of scarring.
A blackhead is basically a clog of sebum and keratin (natural products of the skin and hair) blocking a follicle in the skin. They may be come infected but usually they are not. They are not black from dirt but from the sebum oxidizing where it meets the air. The blockage can sometimes be pushed out easily and if you treat the area with antiseptic and toner, it will help the follicle to close up. There is a risk of scarring if you are not careful, but not a great risk of infection.
However, blackheads will usually recur as long as the body continues to produce a lot of sebum, which is common in adolescence. The best treatment is not squeezing but a wash or lotion based on salicylic acid which can remove the sebum. Repeated blackheads will eventually stretch the follicle, leading to visibly open pores.
3. Cystic acne and boils
Never try to squeeze red pimples that have no sharp white head. Cystic acne pimples, where the lump is often deep, cannot easily be squeezed and even if you do succeed in extracting some pus it will not help it to heal. You may drive the infection deeper and very likely cause scarring. Both cystic acne and boils, which are skin abscesses, should be treated by a doctor or dermatologist.
If you do decide to pop your pimples (or a friend’s), be sure to follow these golden rules:
1. Wait until the pimple is ripe and ready. Never squeeze a pimple that is just a red lump.
2. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after. Collect any pus on a clean tissue and put it straight in the garbage. Clean the area with antiseptic.
3. To avoid scarring when popping pimples, always squeeze with the side of the fingers, never with fingernails.