The Science Behind Pimple Popping
A pimple strikes, and what do you do? Well, most of us (regrettably!) pop it. We know it’s really bad, but pimple popping just feels So. Damn. Good.
The problem is, as irresistible as it may be, picking and prodding at your skin leaves you susceptible to redness, scarring, and even an infection.
Since we know how hard it is to keep your hands off, we’ve done our homework to show you the right path to blemish-free, scar-free skin, so that hopefully you feel inspired to turn your back on pimple popping.
Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about pimple popping and its effects on the skin. Plus, we have a very good solution for keeping those paws of yours off your pimples.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENS WHEN YOU POP A WHITEHEAD OR BLACKHEAD?
As enjoyable as it is to squeeze your zits, you absolutely should never do it! If there’s one rulebook in the skincare bible you should always follow, it’s this one.
“Popping irritates and causes more inflammation of the pimple, so it remains red and lasts longer,” explains dermatologist Dr. Vermen Verallo-Rowell. “Once the inflammation subsides, the pimple can leave behind marks that bother people as much as the acne itself.”
These marks can appear as anything from a faded brown dot to a dark scar or thick keloid scar. Worst of all, these marks are hard to treat once they appear. In other words, it’s always good to prevent them so they don’t become an issue in the first place.
In a nutshell, here’s what happens when you pop your zits.
You Tear the Skin
When you squeeze a breakout, you are forcefully pushing the contents of it (oil, bacteria, and grime) out, which actually tears the skin. And it’s precisely this tearing that results in long-term acne scarring.
You May Worsen Existing Pimples
And you wouldn’t want that, would you?
“As you press on the pimple, you are introducing bacteria and dirt from your finger into the zit,” says dermatologist Dr. Sejal Shah. “That can cause the pimple to become more red, inflamed, swollen and infected.”
You Create More Pimples
Thought pinching away your pimples would keep them away permanently? Sorry! Not going to happen. Like, ever.
Popping a pimple simply spawns more spots. That’s because the bacteria harboring within the acne pustule can spread, once released, and cause more acne.
You May Cause a Number of Infections
According to Dr. Verallo-Rowell, your hands frequently touch body parts and objects that may have microbes.
“Unfortunately, many microbes have now become resistant to topical and oral antimicrobials,” she says. “Some names you may hear are MRSA, MRStrep, resistant fungi, and viruses.” Thus, the moment you pop a pimple, you instantly open up the skin and make it vulnerable to microbes, which may lead to a myriad of infections.
You Could Cause Scarring
Picking or popping your zits can worsen the situation and prevent it from healing. It can also cause trauma to the skin, leaving a mark behind known as acne scarring.
Before you start squeezing away at them, consider what’s actually going on under the skin. With so much bacteria in the area, popping can push this bacteria deeper into the skin, causing more swelling and redness.
What’s more, it can make blemishes worse and lead to you developing acne scars. The best advice we can give? Stay patient, leave it alone, and eventually your pimples will disappear.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO INSTEAD
There are many ways you can stop yourself from picking at your pimples – and ways to prevent them from appearing at all.
- Place an Acne Patch Over it
Acne patches are a quick and skin-friendly tool for getting rid of pimples. They contain hydrocolloid to drain all the gunk from the spot and dry it out so that it heals quickly. They’re also effective at keeping your hands off your zits.
Try Truly’s Super Acne Trio, which contains hydrocolloid pimple stickers in three different shapes: stars, hearts, and hemp leaves.
- Follow an Acne-Formulated Skincare Routine
The key to preventing acne scars is to stop spots from cropping up altogether. To do that, make sure you’re following a skincare routine that specifically targets acne. We recommend trying Truly’s CBD Jelly Bundle to keep your skin clear and blemish-free.
- Lower Your Stress Levels
People that pick often do it out of stress and anxiety.
Calm your nerves and soothe your stress levels by investing in your self-care. Do yoga, take more baths, read a book, or go for a walk in nature. All these things can significantly improve your stress and anxiety levels, making your skin clearer and less inflamed as a result.
Try Truly’s Moon Bath Essentials the next time you feel stress coming on to calm your skin and mind.
And if You Just Can’t Resist…
Consult your dermatologist.
If you’re feeling tempted to pop your pimple, book an appointment with your dermatologist before you do anything you’ll regret. Your dermatologist can bring down the size and inflammation of a larger cystic breakout with the use of a cortisone injection. As for less severe breakouts, they can give you a chemical peel or extraction to remove blackheads or whiteheads.
Either way, if you’re feeling close to popping your pimple, don’t! Go straight to your derm for professional help to avoid making things worse.
You can also train your brain to fight the urge, according to Dr. Shah.
“Popping a pimple is often an impulse move, so when you have the urge, try to come up with a method to divert it,” she says. “For example, try wearing a rubber band around your wrist and gently snapping it when you feel the need the pop.”
At the end of the day, prodding at your skin – whether squeezing, popping or picking – is never a good idea. We’d advise you to stay calm and patient and wait it out until the zit goes away on its own. Alternatively, stick an acne patch over it and forget about it as it heals.