6 Reasons to Not Pop that Pimple

Written by Alison Moseley, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on November 3, 2017 2 Comments

popping a pimple

Acne blemishes often appear very quickly. Your first reaction may be to pop the pimple. However, the short-term benefits of popping may end up leading to long-term harm to your skin.

The pustule, or “white head”, of a pimple is actually the skin’s way of isolating the bacteria and oil of the pimple. Popping the pimple destroys this barrier, exposing its contents to the rest of your skin. Here are 6 issues that can arise from pimple popping:

Additional Pimples

The most common negative effect of popping a pimple is the development of even more pimples. This happens as excess oil and p. Acnes bacteria leak out of the pustule and become reabsorbed back into the pores.


When you pop a pimple you actually create a wound (tear) in the skin. The lesion is a perfect means for bacteria to cause infection. Worse, infection-causing bacteria can live almost anywhere, so you may be at risk no matter how clean your fingers are.


As the resulting skin wound heals, a scab naturally forms. At this point you may begin to realize that scabs are extremely hard to camouflage with makeup. You may be even tempted to pick off the scab, resulting in even more damage to the skin.


Pimple popping can result in increased inflammation or irritation for two reasons. First, the physical pressing and pulling motions needed to pop a pimple often cause more inflammation in the area. Second, subsequent puss from a popped pimple is often driven deep into the skin leading to more redness and swelling.


Skin damage from bursting the blemish can sometimes result in Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH), where areas of the skin appear darker than surrounding skin. Pimples that are larger and more inflamed have a higher chance of causing PIH when popped. While this form of skin discoloration can normalize over time, it may take up to two years to fully disappear.

Acne Scars

Chronic pimple popping can increase your odds of developing permanent acne scars. Instead of properly healing over time, the picking and squeezing of your acne further irritates the acne lesion. In an attempt to heal itself, the skin will often produce more collagen at the site which leads to scar contraction (a sunken acne scar).

The Better Way

Instead of popping, you may be better off treating your pimple with a topical acne product and covering it up with makeup, if desired. Otherwise, consider seeing a dermatologist, who may be able to inject a diluted corticosteroid directly into the acne nodule or cyst, and within a few hours your pimple will start to go down with minimal negative side effects.


Alison Moseley, MD

Alison Moseley, M.D. completed her doctorate of medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where she graduated with the distinction of Magna Cum Laude. Dr. Moseley is Board Certified by the American Board of Dermatology and is active in various medical organizations, including the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society of Dermatology, the Texas Dermatological Society, the Texas Medical Association, and the Travis County Medical Society. She currently sees patients at our Lakeway location.

2 Responses to “6 Reasons to Not Pop that Pimple”

  1. Avatar Raman says:

    everyone told that not to pop a pimple but no one tells why ..this article clears all my doubt on the same…thanks..great article

  2. Avatar Michael says:

    Thanks for clearing the misconceptions.

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