But is it a good thing for your skin? You may have been told that popping your acne will just make it worse, it’ll give you scars, or it’ll make new spots pop up.
The truth of the matter is that popping your pimples is not always detrimental, but if you use the wrong strategy then it can make your acne both worse and longer lasting. Here’s why…
Popping pimples can increase inflammation
You are almost certainly familiar with the cycle that occurs with a popped pimple. You pop it, it seems better initially but within hours, it has grown even more red and swollen than it was to start with. Why does that happen? Because popping a pimple can massively increase the amount of inflammatory chemicals being sent to it. When you pop a spot, it basically creates a wound on your skin.
Your skin has breached, and your body has to do something about it. This kick-starts the body’s wound healing process and the classic inflammatory response; your body sends numerous pro-inflammatory chemicals (like interleukin 6) to the site of the wound.
The idea of these chemicals is to stop you from interfering with the wound’s healing process, so they cause the site to swell up, go red and become painful to touch. They basically intensify every single quality that made it a pimple to start with.
Popping your spots can create an acne breeding frenzy
The second problem is that popping pimples is an excellent way to create new acne on your face. What people usually tell you is that you pop your spots, your fingers get drenched in bacteria, and then you spread the bacteria around your face where it has a perfect opportunity to create new acne.
That isn’t what actually happens but the real scenario is very similar. It is actually oxidised sebum that gets spread all around your face. Oxidised sebum is what really helps to create acne in the first place as it is one of the most potent pore-blocking substances in the world. The more oxidised sebum you have on your face then the worse your acne will be, and popping pimples is notorious for spreading it everywhere.
Once on your face it will lead to freshly blocked pores and a fresh batch of acne. What makes popping pimples particularly bad is that this oxidised sebum can get to anywhere. It is guaranteed to affect the area surrounding the pimple, creating new acne there, but it can reach the other side of your face too.
You may have wondered why when you pop a pimple, new acne seems to sprout up in a completely different region of your face. The answer is that after popping a pimple, you will inevitably rub your face at some point without thinking about it, and this can get the oxidised sebum anywhere onto your skin.
It should be pretty clear from these explanations that popping your spots is often NOT a good thing. Also remember that an inflammatory response is a massive part of what creates acne, so by bursting a pimple you are basically adding more fuel to the fire of what created the acne in the first place!
It might feel great to pop a pimple, but very often the consequences are not worth it all. Popping a spot also massively increases the time it takes to heal. A healthy unpicked spot will go away when the inflammatory response to bacteria subsides, allowing the body to heal it like any wound on your body…
…but when you burst a spot there is additional inflammation added, meaning it takes longer for it to subside and longer for the acne to heal.
There is hope
If you love to burst your pimples then there’s one circumstance in which you can, and that’s if it’s very old. If the pimple is “ready to die”, then popping it will not lead to any significant inflammatory response. An example is a whitehead; because the site of the popping is so close to the surface it doesn’t damage the skin in the same way and it doesn’t cause inflammation later. You do still have to be careful about the sebum gushing out, but to prevent this you simply have to give your skin a good washing afterwards.
If you do start popping your pimples then you’ve got to follow the ultimate rule: the easier a spot is to pop, the more likely it is that you should be popping it.
Whiteheads burst extremely easily and they don’t cause much damage to the skin as long as you are careful.
If, on the other hand, you take a relatively fresh pimple and start hacking away at it like a maniac, you can mess up your skin in a big way. You will guarantee all sorts of problems including an inflammatory response, and also cosmetic damage to the surrounding skin.
The goal of removing acne is to make your skin look good, it’s no use if in the process of removing it you destroy the rest of your skin. If a spot is impossible to burst then you shouldn’t be bursting it in the first place. Wait until later and it will become far easier to pop and less damaging to do so.
Pop your spots like a professional
It’s important to use the right technique in order to minimise the damage and maximise the benefits. The best thing to do is first select your spot, one that you believe will pop quite easily. Then use the classic method; get two fingers, place them on either side of the spot, slightly underneath it, then squeeze.
If it’s really ready to burst then it will explode without the need for much pressure at all. What’s important is that you are gentle; this will minimise any inflammation to the surrounding skin. It’s best to use a finger on each side, because this really helps with the exploding action.
It helps the contents to really fire out and as a result they don’t get on the surrounding skin as much. They are more likely to end up on your wall, and that might be disgusting, but at least it’s not on your skin. Do not forget to wash your skin anyway and also the wall.
Some other tips are…
- If a pimple is painful, and you can feel the pain without even touching it, then you should not pop it. Lots of pain means that it’s already very inflamed and you don’t want to make it worse.
- If you can literally feel a spot wanting to burst on your face, then pop it. Sometimes a spot feels so tight that if feels like the skin is about to explode and that is a classic sign that you should pop it.
- Do not pop cysts, especially early in their life. Attempting to usually fails, and will result in masses of inflammation.
- Wash your hands! If you find a spot that should be popped, then do it, but you have to remove the fluid from your hands. If you don’t then you’ll touch your face, it’ll get everywhere, and you’ll be shocked to see a whole new generation of pimples pop up.
The temptation to pop a pimple is extremely powerful; it just feels so strangely satisfying. The good news is that you can still do it sometimes.
Remember the golden rule: the easier a pimple is to pop, the more likely it is you should be popping it. Don’t go crazy and hack away at spots that don’t want to burst. Target spots like whiteheads, old pimples, and fairly calm and painless acne.
Do that and you can experience the joy of bursting a spot with very few of the side effects.
Thanks for reading!