If You HAVE To Pop A Pimple, This Is How You Should Do It


pop pimple Source: Romariolen/Shutterstock

Anyone who claims they’ve never popped a pimple is probably lying! We’ve all been there; you can see the head and you just can’t resist the urge – you ignore the advice of your mom (and your dermatologist) – and you decide on the inevitable; just pop it.

However, because every derm and skincare expert we’ve ever spoken to has told us not to, there’s really no guidelines on how to do it safely to reduce the risk of scarring and spreading any harmful bacteria. We decided it was time to get a derm’s opinion – because we will probably do it with or without – so we got in touch with celeb dermatologist Dr. Lancer, Founder of Lancer Skincare. Here’s what he said:

Pimple 101:


First off, we love that Dr. Lancer reminds us that we should never feel embarrassed about a pimple: “Blemishes are common among men and women, all ethnicities, and can come at any time in life, not just for teenagers. Most people think of blemishes being on the face, but they can appear on just about any skin surface area. They’re triggered usually by diet, climate, cosmetics products and/or stress induced.” A pimple occurs when your hair follicles become blocked with a combination of dead skin cells and sebum (the natural oil your skin produces), or by bacteria in the skin, called p.acnes. This causes pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads to form.

Why derms warn against popping pimples:

Dr. Lancer explains the dangers of popping your pimple: “As a generality, physicians tell you not to touch them. The reason is a blemish is for a brief period of time, but a scar can last forever. If you try to evacuate the blemish, there’s a risk of scarring. A blemish is inflammatory, and you don’t know what the material inside of the surface is. Once you start messing with the blemish, you can easily turn a simple problem into a complex problem, which is why dermatologists say to come to see them to evacuate it properly under a clean condition. That might involve lateral drainage, use of laser, a mechanical scooping instrument, or injection of an anti-inflammatory to drain. There are many options depending on the type of blemish it is, where it is, the ancestry and ethnicity of who it’s on, and risk of scar.”


Check out our fave pimple-zapping products here.

The safest way to pop a pimple

Dr. Lancer says, “For those people who just can’t resist the urge, to remedy the situation themselves I suggest a repeated warm cloth compress to the affected area for one minute, then a new compress a minute later. Repeat every minute for six minutes every hour, for two or three hours to soften and convince the blemish to drain itself. It’s not a quick fix, but it’s effective – 50% of the time the blemish with self-eliminate without scarring. When you try to manipulate the tissue, chances are you’ll leave a scar and scars are expensive to repair. Start the warm compress as soon as you feel or see the blemish.

“I don’t recommend any instrumentation for home self-care, a washcloth with warm water compresses is the only instrument you should use.” And do you know what, we totally agree! Even if you are super careful when you pop your pimple, and even if you clean it immediately after, what you can’t see it where the bacteria goes within your skin.

If you’re going to pop it anyway, here is our advice if you insist on popping it yourself!

1. Always start with sanitizer: Make sure your hands and nails are clean; otherwise, all the dirt and bacteria will transfer onto your skin and it could make the breakout worse.

2. Before you pop, you need to prep: Start by washing your face with your daily cleanser, then sterilize the pimple with cosmetic alcohol. Once you’ve cleaned the pimple, use Dr. Lancer’s method of using a warm washcloth; this will open up your pores and soften the skin.

3. Not all pimples should be popped: We strongly recommend leaving all cystic or nodular pimples alone. If you pop these, you run the risk of spreading the bacteria further and making it much worse and prolonging the duration of its stay! Instead, try a drying lotion, like the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, $17, to help combat redness and inflammation.

4. You can use a tool:  A comedone extractor can help (pictured below), as it’ll deliver the same amount of pressure yet lower the risk of transferring dirt from your fingers to your skin (be sure to spray with alcohol each time you use it). For more deets on how to use a comedone extractor, read this post.

blackhead remover tool5. Pop it gently: Don’t apply too much pressure and do NOT use your nails. Instead, wrap your fingers in some clean tissue and apply a small amount of pressure. If it doesn’t pop when you apply minimal pressure, then leave it alone!

6. Pop your pimple at night: It’s best to pop your pimple as part of your nighttime routine as your skin will be able to breathe and repair overnight. Once you’ve popped your pimple, cleanse the area again and then follow with your usual nighttime routine. Finish with a soothing and anti-inflammatory tea tree gel.

Do you guys pop it or do you try to resist the urge? If you’re good, then make sure you follow our ultimate pimple-busting regime.