Is It Ever A Good Idea To Squeeze Out A Blackhead?

There are two types of people in this world: those who pop their pimples and those who don't. And let us tell you, once you pop a pimple (or squeeze a blackhead), you can never return. It's genuinely addictive, that satisfaction of watching all that gross gunk come out over and over again. That's why people watch videos of it online for pleasure. It can also feel productive as if you were helping your skin cleanse itself from bad oils and dirt. So, if you're one of those rare individuals who never picks at their face, you're one of the lucky ones. Keep resisting temptation — we're rooting for you.

Now, for the people that pick at their face as if their skin depends on it — when it decidedly depends on the opposite — this article is dedicated to you. We needed to know this crucial information, and so did you.

What are blackheads?

Blackheads, also known as strawberry seeds of hell, are small, dark bumps that appear on your face and body due to clogged pores. Though they can appear virtually anywhere on the body, they're most commonly found on the cheeks, chin, forehead, and especially on and around the nose.

This mild form of acne is caused by the over-production of oil from the sebaceous glands beneath the skin, which can quickly plug up pores and worsen if it goes untreated. This oil buildup is due to various reasons, some of them manageable and some uncontrollable. The presence of acne-causing bacteria might cause blackheads, the buildup of dead skin cells, or even hormonal imbalances (via Healthline). Some people even credit sensitive and acne-prone skin to an unhealthy diet, consumption of dairy products, and too much sugar intake. Most of these things can be helped, either with skincare products, prescribed medication and supplements, or a healthier diet. But regardless, it's not safe to pick them, as you can damage your skin barrier in the process.

What are the treatments?

Cleansing the skin regularly is step one of many in defeating blackheads. Regarding face wash targeting acne in all its forms, products containing salicylic acid are ideal. They treat this condition from the root of the problem by breaking down and digging out all the excess oil, dead cells, and dirt that build up throughout the day. Dermatologists, according to Healthline, recommend beginning by using a salicylic acid cleanser every night, paired with a more gentle and soothing cleanser to use each morning.

Another step you can take towards blemish-free skin is weekly exfoliation. Products, such as chemical exfoliators with AHAs and BHAs as active agents, are great for removing dead skin cells from the top layer of your skin, leaving behind a new layer with less buildup.

Hydrocolloid bandages (better known as pimple patches) are also an excellent way to absorb excess oil, and if all else fails, seeing your dermatologist for safe and controlled extractions is always a good option. Facials performed by trained estheticians are a close second, but consult your dermatologist about the safety of getting professional facials and extractions regularly.

Consequences of squeezing blackheads

We see you! Get those nails away from your poor face. The consequences can be dire, and you don't want to deal with the fallout. It's better to prevent unwanted appearance marks on the face than to spend too much money erasing them later.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association warns that picking at any form of acne, including blackheads, might lead to permanent or long-lasting scarring, the continued development of more painful acne and inflammation, and even infection. This happens because as you try to squeeze out the blackhead, you inadvertently push some of the sebum and dirt further down, which causes more stubborn buildup and irritation. If you're not careful about washing your hands before and after touching your face, you might also be introducing bacteria from your hands to your face. All in all, refraining from popping pimples is best.

Replace the compulsion

Here's the thing: picking at your face is a compulsion. It's a bad habit, and it's hard to kick. The reasons why we do it might not even have anything to do with the state of our skin but rather with external stress and anxiety that might trigger the need to cope by indulging in harmful habits. These can look like nail biting, pulling out hair and lashes, or even picking at pimples and blackheads.

But if picking at your face is a compulsion and a seemingly unbreakable habit, then how does one stop? While not easy, the answer is straightforward: replace one bad habit with a healthier one. Just like any other addiction. As with all detrimental coping skills, skin picking and blackhead popping are best dealt with by doing your best to mitigate the sources of stress in your life — and also by working on better stress coping mechanisms.

Once the source of stress or anxiety is identified and dealt with, mitigating the bad habit becomes easier. Whenever you feel the urge to squeeze at a blackhead, replace that with putting on a pimple patch, calling a friend, picking up a stress ball or fidget toy, and stepping away from the mirror. That last one is key. Do your routine and go. This way, you're less likely to obsess over the look of every individual pore. Good luck!