Stacy Cox Jun 17, 2015

Here at MDC, we would love to think that we have all the answers for you. However, there are certain issues that require the insight of a pro. Today we asked skincare guru Stacy Cox to how to pop a pimple the right way. Take it away, Stacy!

Acne is not cute. And, even though we’re told time and time again to avoid popping or touching the pesky blemishes that magically appear on our faces, it seems we still wrestle with this Shakespearean question: To pop or not to pop? If you want my professional opinion, here it is. If you absolutely must extract a blemish, make sure it has a clear, discernible whitehead. This would typically classify the pimple as mild to moderate acne, so popping it is no big deal, if done correctly. So, by following the step-by-step guide below … victory is yours for the taking. However, never attempt to pop a blemish that doesn't have a whitehead, no matter how red or painful it is. It's likely nothing will come out and all you will do is aggravate the acne further. Now, let’s read through the following steps together and create a game plan for us to lean on and follow.

How to Pop a Pimple

Step 1. Start with a washed face and clean hands. This is not a step to skip, especially when dealing with your face. Touching a blemish with dirty hands can lead to skin infection, which is way worse than a little pimple!

Step 2. Using a hot compress like a towel or tissue, apply heat and pressure to the pimple for at least a minute. This helps soften the skin around the blemish, allowing for easier extraction.

Step 3. Take a few squares of toilet paper or tissue and wrap them around your fingertips. This keeps the area sterile, and allows you to get a controlled grip on the skin surrounding the blemish so you can add just the right amount of pressure for a safe extraction.

Step 4. Ready to squeeze? The rule of thumb to keep in mind is to squeeze the contents of the pimple upward. If you don't get underneath the zit, you risk it rupturing downward into your skin, which causes further infection (and possibly, a painful cyst). Grip either side of the blemish and gently apply pressure with your fingertips, not your nails. Once the blemish pops, give it an additional squeeze or two to get everything out (I know, gross). Once it starts expelling clear liquid or a small amount of blood, it's time to call it a day and move on to post-pop care. FYI: You shouldn't need more than a little pressure. If you find yourself pinching the skin too tightly with nothing to show for it, the blemish isn’t ready. Leave it be and have another go at it the next day.

Step 5.  After you’ve finished squeezing, gently dab the area clean with an alcohol-infused toner or cleansing wipe. Don't put makeup over the blemish while it is still open and oozing! (This is basically the equivalent of stuffing dirt into the open pore.) To minimize any post-extraction redness, rub a cold ice cube over the area to calm things down. Another strategy I like to employ is, after the pimple has dried a bit, apply a mild topical antibiotic such as Neosporin to kill any infection-causing bacteria. Some folks will opt to use an acne spot treatment. Regardless, be mindful to avoid any pore-clogging products, including moisturizers, primers and the like, until the lesion has dried completely.

To keep any more pimples from popping up, be sure to keep an acne-fighting agent in your skincare routine (I love The Body Shop Tea Tree Blemish Fade Night Lotion). Just because it went away, doesn’t mean it can’t come back!

Need more skincare advice? Check out our
skincare tips and tricks!

Photo: thinkstock



About the Author:Stacy Cox is a Los Angeles-based esthetician and owner of day spa Pampered People in Studio City, California.

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