Summertime, and getting zits is easy. That’s why it’s so great when you get permission from your dermatologist to do something you’re not supposed to do—like popping a pimple.
I can’t help it, and I bet you can’t help it, either, when you’ve got a juicy one that’s ready to erupt like the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii. It’s such a satisfying, secret pleasure to lock yourself away in the bathroom and release the pressure. Squirt! The pain and throbbing ended. Then the letdown.
For a brief moment’s pleasure, because you didn’t have the patience to let the pesky pimple mature and heal, either you’ve got a little infection or a bruise, which will potentially last for weeks, at the site where you strangled the pimple to death.
Here’s New York City dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry’s guide to safe pimple popping.
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- Wait until the affected area is a pustule or whitehead and is pulsating through the skin. This way it will be easier to drain the area of any pus/fluid.
- With freshly washed hands, clean the infected area with an alcohol swab.
- Using a sterile needle, pierce the top of the whitehead to create a small incision/tear of the skin.
- Gently squeeze and add constant pressure to the area with a sterile gauze to release the pus.
- Clean the area again with an alcohol swab and use a spot treat such as AcneFree Maximum Strength Terminator 10 to moisturize and eliminate any bacteria from the area.
Henry does want to make it known that popping a pimple may cause deeper inflammation to the skin. Take precaution when it comes to your skin; you don’t want to make the affected area worse. Her ultimate tip is to visit a dermatologist for all acne or skin issues to treat and help prevent further problems.
Most of the time, I forgo the pleasure of popping the pimple and make myself wait to avoid potential bruising and infection. Here’s my non-doctor-approved Do It Yourself Slow Pimple-Popping Guide (make sure you follow Henry’s pimple-popping-ready guidelines above):
- Old-fashioned Colgate toothpaste applied overnight on the pimple. Don’t use gel toothpaste; it won’t dry the same way as the paste, which helps to draw out the pus at the site.
- For emergency pimple-popping assistance without damaging the skin, chop a Tylenol tablet or caplet in half, crush it with a spoon, add a few drops of water to make a paste and put it on your bump. You can also apply the liquid from a Tylenol gel cap to the area. It’s a trick I’ve used on set to quickly flatten a pimple and take some of the pain away without having to pop it.
- My latest discovery is the Mighty Patch. This pimple fighter is a pea-sized, drug-free, clear disk loaded with hydrocolloid. The way it works is that the bandage itself is formulated with pectin-based polymers that suck up the fluids from the pimple and form a gel that’s contained and isolated in the bandage itself. They’re fab for your face, and also especially handy for “workout pimples” that can plague chest, thighs and buttocks if you hang out in gym clothes too long.
Not to be a pimple-popping party pooper, but if you have cystic acne—Do. Not. Freakin’. Pop. That. Thang. Ever! You’ll spread the infection and pretty much for sure scar your pretty face, which will get over cystic acne one day.
Otherwise, you regular, everyday blemish people, go ahead and get your pimple freak on ... safely.