Pimples, Spots, Zits, whatever you call them we can all agree on one thing; resisting the urge to pop one is difficult. As tempting as it may be, popping these pimples can be doing more harm than good. Read on to find out why you shouldn’t pop your pimples, and what you can do instead.
What is a pimple?
A pimple is a collection of sebum, oil and pus all encapsulated in an irritated, inflamed area of skin. These materials come together to block your pores and inflammation is a natural reaction your body has to deal with acne and blocked pores.
Why do pimples form though?
Pimples can form due to several reasons which include but aren’t limited to:
- Lack of attention to facial cleanliness
- Overactive sebaceous glands
Types of Pimple
Along with several mechanisms that can form a pimple, there are also a few different types of pimples:
- Whitehead – A white bump is formed on your skin containing all the pus and oils underneath.
- Blackhead – This is a comedone formed when the oil and dirt gets trapped in your pores and oxidises giving it the characteristic black colour.
- Pustules – These are effectively larger, more serious whiteheads.
So, should you pop your pimples?
The general answer is no, you can accidentally damage the skin by manually bursting pimples. When you pop a pimple, you’re effectively breaking the skin barrier to push out all the gunk inside. By doing so, you’re forcibly creating an opening which can cause scarring if done incorrectly.
In addition to scarring, you’re opening up the risk for infection as well increasing the risk of bacteria which was present inside the pus to spread to the rest of the face. This can lead to further outbreaks and infection.
Your hands are also a problem, as the bacteria contained on the hands can also spread into the skin and cause infection.
What to do if you can’t resist the temptation
If you’re really adamant on popping that pimple, there are some precautions you should take to minimise damage.
- Wash your hands. Possibly the most important step prior to popping, you want to ensure that no harmful bacteria is transferred from your hands to your face during this process.
- Use a sterilised needle. If you really want to pop that white head, it’s best to use a sterilised needle. Sterilise the needle with alcohol and prick the whitehead at it’s centre. Once this is done, gently squeeze the surrounding area until the pus and oil has been removed.
- Be gentle. If you’ve already created an opening with a needle, you won’t need much force to push all the gunk out. Being gentle will ensure you do not damage your pores either through scarring or permanent enlargement.
In addition to the methods above, there are other treatments which can be used, here are just a few:
- Serums containing Salicylic Acid (BHA) can help clear up acne and breakouts by exfoliating the skin and regulating sebum production.
- Ice can help to reduce swelling caused by acne.
- Try Tea Tree Oil, a natural ingredient known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties.
Prevention is definitely better than cure, we’ve compiled a list of things you can do to prevent acne from forming
- Cleanse twice daily. Cleansing will ensure that your face is free of unwanted oils and dirt. Try and use a cleanser that is oil-free, and non-comedogenic meaning it doesn’t block pores. We recommend Cetaphil – Gentle Skin Cleanser
- Do not touch your face. This can be difficult for some as it’s a habit a lot of us have. By ensuring you don’t touch your face you’re limiting the amount of bacteria and dirt that can be transferred, reducing the likelihood of breaking out.
- Focus on your diet. A balanced diet will help to both prevent spots and will also improve the condition of your skin in general. Read our article on Diet Tips for Clear, Healthy Skin.
- Stay hydrated. Ensuring you’re drinking enough water will help your body push out those toxins to keep your skin clear and hydrated.
- See a dermatologist. If you suffer from acne that isn’t going away, best to see a qualified professional. There are several prescription treatments which can help you with your condition such as Isotretinoin capsules (Accutane), as well as treatments including chemical peels and lasers.
Popping pimples is a bad idea, it may be tempting to do so but it carries the risk of infection and scarring. It’s best to let your body deal with them on it’s own. If however you can’t resist, it’s imperative that you follow the correct procedure of washing your hands, and being gentle.