How To Safely Pop A Pimple, According To An Expert

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When you're suffering from an acne-prone complexion, it can be tough to resist poking or squeezing those pesky blemishes. But compulsive pimple-picking can have serious consequences, like scabbing, scarring, and permanent pigmentation. So how are you supposed to deal with acne flare-ups? Is there any way to extract your zits without causing a disaster for your skin?

We reached out to licensed aesthetician Suyud Issa from All Skin Care Talk for expert insight on handling those poppable pimples safely and responsibly. First of all, she recommends enlisting the help of a professional whenever possible. "The smartest move would be to resist the urge to pop a pimple and seek professional help from a dermatologist or aesthetician," says Issa. "Popping a pimple yourself can lead to infection, scarring, and further irritation of the skin — all of which are far more serious consequences than the temporary relief that popping may bring."

However, she acknowledges that professional help may not always be easily available or cost-effective for every single blemish. "If you cannot pay a visit to a dermatologist or aesthetician and cannot resist the urge to pop your pimple, then the best course of action is to use extreme caution," Issa advises. Sound like your situation? Here are Issa's top tips to safely and carefully pop a pimple at home.

Prepare your hands, tools, and skin

Whether or not you believe that cleanliness is next to godliness, it's certainly a crucial aspect of safe pimple popping. After all, most acne involves an overabundance of bacteria in your pores, so the last thing you want to do is introduce yet more bacteria to your sensitive skin. "Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water and disinfect your tools (if you are using any) before attempting to pop the pimple," instructs Issa. "Then cleanse the affected area with a mild cleanser and pat dry."

After everything has been properly disinfected, you also want to make your skin as open and pliable as possible to avoid trauma or scarring from your pimple popping. As Issa outlines, "Follow up by steaming the area (either in the shower, with a facial steamer, or with a warm cloth) for several minutes to open and dilate the pores and soften the pimple, making it easier to extract the pus."

Apply gentle pressure to the pimple

Once your skin and tools are all adequately cleaned and prepared, it's time to remove all the gunk from your target pimple. But that doesn't mean squeezing and pinching with excessive force. When it comes to safe pimple popping, gentle pressure is the name of the game.

"Use a comedone extractor, two cotton swabs, or your fingers wrapped around tissues to gently press down on the pimple until it pops," directs Issa. Comedone extractors, which resemble metal pens with looped ends, are designed to distribute pressure all around the center of a blemish to minimize skin trauma. You can buy them in variety sets or individually, such as this inexpensive Professional Blackhead and Blemish Remover from Utopia Care.

Bear in mind, however, that not any old skincare tool will do. Issa recommends against using sharper tools, which could damage the delicate layers of your skin. "Don't attempt to use an extraction needle," she says. "You could end up doing more harm than good."

Give the area some aftercare

There are a few more things to do after you pop that stubborn pimple. First and foremost, you want to clean and disinfect the area one more time to remove any rogue bacteria or other contaminants. Issa tells Glam, "After popping, gently cleanse the area again with a mild cleanser and apply a topical antibiotic or spot treatment to help prevent infection, reduce inflammation, and promote healing."

It's also important to monitor the skin around your popped pimple to ensure that it's healing appropriately. If not, you may need to call in some backup. "If at any point you feel discomfort because the pimple did not respond to treatment or begins to look infected (red, swollen, pus-filled), seek professional help immediately," says Issa.

When in doubt, it's always better to skip pimple popping at home and wait until you can visit your dermatologist or aesthetician. As Issa reminds us, "Remember, popping pimples should be done in moderation, only when absolutely necessary, and preferably under professional guidance. Self-popping can cause more harm than good if not done properly — so it is best to be safe and seek help from a certified professional."