It is so tempting and oddly satisfying to pop the pesky pimple over your face. However, as weirdly tempting it is, your dermatologist does not advise it. The popping of a large pimple or squeezing out a blackhead by yourself may give you unwanted side effects, such as permanent, more noticeable, painful scars or inflammation. There is a higher chance of passing the bacterial infection from your hands to the pimple site while popping it. It may cause more acne over the face. Therefore, acne is best left alone. However, if you have accidentally popped a pimple, then
- Wash your hands under running water with soap. Then wash your face with face wash and cold water. This will wash off the germs that are now teeming over your skin.
- Relieve pain by applying ice wrapped in cloth or an icepack over a popped pimple to help to reduce the redness and inflammation.
- Antibiotic creams containing clindamycin can be applied over the area with a cotton swab.
- An antibacterial pot treatment can be done using benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or tea tree oil until acne heals.
- Maintain a healthy skincare routine daily, such as washing your face with cold water, applying antibacterial ointments to fight against pimples, or moisturizing the skin, which may help get rid of a pimple.
- Protect yourself from seasonal effects. Sunlight, certain geographical locations, or seasons may affect your acne healing process.
- Managing your stress well helps with your acne healing.
- Prevent scarring by applying gels containing aloe vera or niacin.
- Treat your acne by consulting a dermatologist when you have no relief, even after following a good hygienic skin routine.
There are chances of returning blackheads and whiteheads after popping the pimple, therefore follow a decent skincare routine to prevent new scars and blemishes. Your dermatologist can remove the pimple safely with proper techniques.
What are the side effects of popping a pimple?
If you pop the pimple at home, it may spread the infection. There are chances of you getting unwanted side effects, such as
- Permanent, more noticeable, and painful acne
- Bacterial infection of the skin if it is popped in the wrong way
- Painful acne
- More noticeable acne scar and blemishes
How do dermatologists remove acne safely?
Dermatologists (skin specialists) use a few techniques to get rid of acne safely, such as
- Acne extraction: It involves using sterile instruments to remove blackheads and whiteheads. Your dermatologist will use sterilized equipment to clean out your skin pores after thoroughly exfoliating your skin. Acne extraction is usually carried out when other treatments fail to clear your skin. However, it is time-consuming and expensive too.
- Steroidal injection: Your dermatologist may inject some steroidal injections into the blemish if you have a painful acne cyst or nodule. This will hasten the healing process and may reduce the risk of scarring. After injecting steroid, the acne nodule will resolve within 48 to 72 hours. Higher doses of steroids in the skin may cause some side effects, therefore avoid injecting it yourself.
- Incision and drainage: Your dermatologist may perform the incision and drainage procedure to remove a large pimple, painful acne cyst, or pus-filled large pimple or nodule with proper technique at the right time. A sterile needle or blade will be used to remove the pus inside the cyst or nodule.
- Other medicinal injections: 5-fluorouracil, interferon α-2 or bleomycin help reduce inflammation. Your dermatologist may suggest Aldara (Imiquimod 5% cream), which may enhance healing. This is also used to prevent keloid (scarring) recurrence after surgical excision.
What are the other options to get rid of pimple scars?
- Chemical peeling: A chemical solution containing salicylic and glycolic acid is applied to remove the top layer of the skin.
- Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion: In this technique, the top layer of the skin is removed or brushed off with the help of an abrasive tool.
- Radiofrequency: Alternating electric current or voltage or a magnetic, electric frequency is used to get rid of a deep large pimple.
- Punch techniques: The acne scar is excised with a punch technique.
- Dermal grafting: In this technique, appropriately dissected deep skin graft implanted on deep large pimple scars.
- Tissue-augmenting agents: Derma-fillers or facial soft tissue augmentation can easily mask acne blemishes.
- Cryotherapy: Extremely cold liquid is used to destroy abnormal pimple tissue.
American Academy of Dermatology. Pimple Popping: Why Only a Dermatologist Should Do It. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/skin-care/popping
Juckett G, Artman-Adams H. Management of Keloids and Hypertrophic Scars. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Aug 1;80(3):253-260. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2009/0801/p253.html
Abdel Hay R, Shalaby K, Zaher H, Hafez V, Chi CC, Dimitri S, Nabhan AF, Layton AM. Interventions for Acne Scars. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Apr 3;4(4):CD011946. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27038134/
Zaenglein AL, Pathy AL, Schlosser BJ, et al. Guidelines of Care for the Management of Acne Vulgaris. J Am Acad Dermatol. May 2016;74(5):945-73.e33. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26897386/
Fulton JE. Acne Rx: What Acne Really Is and How to Eliminate Its Devastating Effects! Self-published; 2001.
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