Should You Pop That Pimple?

Written by Ramya Kollipara, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on May 22, 2020 No Comments

popping a pimple

It’s the morning of your big [insert any important event here] and you shriek when you look into the mirror. You’re met with a huge unsightly zit right in the middle of your forehead. It happens to everyone, and unfortunately it just happened to you. You should just pop that pimple, right? Think again.

The visible white head of the pimple (pustule) is actually a little pocket that surrounds the oil, puss, and bacteria of the pimple; isolating it from the rest of the skin. If you pierce the pimple’s outer skin this material will ooze out and the bacteria can reabsorb into your pores creating even more pimples.

Even worse, squeezing your pimple can result in the contents being driven deeper into the skin. This can make the same pimple become red, inflamed, and swollen, looking even worse than before. It also increases the chance of infection or acne scarring forming on the skin.

The bottom line: it’s best to leave your pimple alone and let it naturally dissipate (most pimples vanish in 3-7 days). However, if you simply must pop your pimple here is the best way to do it.

How to properly pop a pimple (if you must)…

  1. The best time to pop a pimple is when it has a firm white head, indicating that the pus is closer to the surface and can be drained easily. Try not to pop your pimple too early!
  2. Take a shower so that the pores will be open and the area will be hydrated. Thoroughly wash your hands, paying careful attention to your nails. Often dirt and bacteria can hiding under the nails is transferred causing future acne.
  3. Use a lighter to completely sterilize a straight a straight pin and (once cooled) wipe with rubbing alcohol. Also dab rubbing alcohol on the blemish and pour some on your fingers as well.
  4. Dry your fingers and wrap them with a clean tissue.
  5. With the pin parallel to your skin surface, gently pierce the very tip of the pimple.
  6. Once pierced, use a cotton swab or tissue to firmly squeeze the pimple. Use a motion that presses around the white tip of the zit. Try not to use your fingers, as doing so will only introduce more bacteria and oil onto your face. If the pus doesn’t come out easily, the pimple isn’t ready to be popped.
  7. Apply alcohol or salicylic acid to the area. This may sting a bit, but it will also minimize the transferring of acne bacteria.

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Ramya Kollipara, MD

Ramya Kollipara, MD is a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained cosmetic dermatologic surgeon specializing in the practice of both cosmetic and medical dermatology. Dr. Kollipara completed a prestigious laser and cosmetic surgery fellowship program at Cosmetic Laser Dermatology in La Jolla, California. During her fellowship, she was involved in cutting-edge clinical research for novel cosmetic treatments involving fillers, neuromodulators and lasers.


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