It is rarely a good idea to pop pimples, since doing so can cause scars or worsen your breakout. If you must pop a pimple, the best way to prevent damage is to use a needle. Alternatively, applying a wet rag can gently remove a whitehead. Using your hands to squeeze the pimple is not recommended, but can be done if the other methods seem too labor-intensive.
Determining Whether a Pimple Can Be Popped
Pop whitehead pimples. Whitehead pimples have usually been around for a few days, and they have a white tip where pus has collected underneath the skin. These pimples are easy to pop, and when treated with care they can be safely removed without spreading the infection or causing scarring.
Don’t pop new pimples. Pimples that have just appeared in the past day or two aren’t ready to pop yet. Wait until the whitehead appears at the tip of the blemish.
Don’t pop pimples that are big, red, or sore. This could worsen your pimple by sending bacteria deeper into your skin. Popping a pimple this big will almost definitely lead to a scar. Only a pimple with white pus is ready to pop.
Visit a dermatologist. Dermatologists can determine the best way to treat your acne. They can prescribe creams that will eliminate your pimples. There are also several procedures they can perform that can treat severe breakouts.
The most commonly prescribed dermatologist treatment is a topical cream, rubbed on the pimples, that will remove oil from the skin and kill acne-causing bacteria.
For red, swollen pimples an oral antibiotic, hormonal birth control, or isotretinoin might be prescribed.
Large acne cysts can be removed by dermatologists through drainage and extraction, in which they remove the cyst and drain out the pus.
Your dermatologist can safely lance the pimple with a pin. This is a technique that should only be done by professionals.
Laser therapies and chemical peels can treat the underlying causes of acne, although they will not remove current cysts.
Limit pimples by washing regularly. Pimples are caused by sweat sitting on your face. Anytime you sweat, wash your face gently with lukewarm water to remove dirt and grime. Do not be harsh or scrub, just wash off sweat.
Scrubbing roughly can worsen acne.
Do not use rough cleaners, like astringents, toners, or exfoliants.
Prepping Your Hands and the Pimple
Wash your hands. This will prevent bacteria from spreading to your face. Wash thoroughly, especially underneath the nails, and use plenty of soap and warm water. You’ll want to avoid touching the pimple with your finger nails, but just in case you do, having them clean will reduce the likelihood of irritation and infection.
Consider using a fingernail brush to get dirt out from under your fingernails.
Cover your hands. Put on disposable gloves just before you’re ready to pop the pimple. Not only will this put a barrier between any remaining bacteria on your fingers (and in your fingernails) and your skin, but it will also prevent the sharp edges of your nails from impacting the pimple.
If you don’t have disposable gloves, you can cover your fingers with clean tissues.
Clean the skin surrounding the pimple with a face cleanser or rubbing alcohol. Apply cleanser to a cotton ball and spread it. When you pop the pimple, you’ll be opening the skin, creating a way for bacteria to enter. The pimple will heal faster if you don’t give bacteria a chance to settle in and create a new or worse infection.
Don’t scrub the area too hard, or you’ll irritate it further. Gently cleanse the area, rinse it with warm water, and pat it dry with a towel.