Pimple Popping Can Cause Scarring – Here’s What Doctors Recommend Instead

  • By: D Anthony
  • Date: February 23, 2024
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Pimple Popping Can Cause Scarring – Here’s What Doctors Recommend Instead

Popping pimples is incredibly tempting for many people. There’s something satisfying about getting rid of a pesky zit. However, popping pimples incorrectly can lead to scarring and other skin issues. That’s why it’s essential to understand the risks of popping pimples and learn what dermatologists recommend instead.

The Risks of Popping Pimples

Popping pimples may provide temporary satisfaction, but it comes with several risks:

– Scarring – Picking and popping pimples can damage the skin and lead to different types of scarring, such as ice pick, boxcar, and hypertrophic scars. Scars occur when the dermis (deeper layer of skin) is damaged during the pimple-popping process.

– Infection – When you pop a pimple, bacteria and pus can spread into the surrounding skin. This can lead to more pimples or infections. Your fingers also bring bacteria when you squeeze pimples, increasing infection risk.

– PIH – Picking at pimples can cause dark spots, known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). This happens when trauma to the skin from popping pimples leads to excess melanin production. The dark spots tend to last several months.

– Slow healing – Incorrectly Popping pimples can damage the skin and delay natural healing. The pimple ends up taking longer to heal.

– Bleeding and redness – Aggressive popping can rupture capillaries and lead to redness and bleeding. This can increase inflammation.

– Swelling – Harsh squeezing of pimples can damage tissues and promote fluid buildup and swelling. A popped pimple may look even more prominent.

– Spreading breakouts – The pressure applied during popping can push bacteria, oils, and pus deeper into the skin. This can spread acne to other areas.

Dermatologist Recommendations for Pimples

Instead of popping pimples on your own, dermatologists recommend the following tips for clear skin:

– Hands off – Do not pick or pop pimples, as this often worsens the problem and causes scarring. Allow pimples to heal on their own whenever possible.

– Cleanse gently – Use a mild, fragrance-free cleanser twice a day. Harsh scrubs and cleansing can promote inflammation.

– Moisturize – Moisturize skin to avoid excess oil production that clogs pores. Look for oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizers.

– Use acne treatments – Products containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or retinoids help clear pimples and prevent new ones. See a dermatologist for prescription-strength treatments.

– Avoid makeup and hair products – Cosmetics and hair gels/sprays can clog pores and worsen acne. Stick to oil-free makeup and cleanse properly.

– Watch what touches skin – Cell phones, pillowcases, and hands can transfer dirt and bacteria to the face. Keep skin clean and avoid resting phones on the face.

– Shower after exercise – Sweat and oils after a workout can clog pores. It’s vital to wash up afterward.

– Treat large pimples carefully – Larger cysts should not be squeezed under the skin. See a dermatologist for cortisone injections to reduce the size.

– Do not use sharp objects – Never try to pop a pimple using needles or sharp tools. This poses a high risk of infection and scarring.

– Use hydrocolloid patches – These small dots help draw out pus and fluid from pimples overnight without popping.

– Address underlying causes – Hormonal imbalances, stress, medications, diet, and other factors can trigger breakouts. A dermatologist can help identify and treat the root issue.

– Consider in-office treatments – Dermatologists offer pimple draining, steroid injections, and laser treatments to clear bumps without scarring.

What Does Proper Pimple Popping Look Like?

Most dermatologists advise not to pop pimples. But if you have a mature, ready-to-drain whitehead, they provide this proper technique:

– Clean hands and use two cotton swabs to gently press on either side of the pimple to push out contents. Never use fingers.

– Do not squeeze hard or crush the pimple. Apply light pressure only.

– Stop if it does not pop easily. Forcing it will cause trauma.

– Do not try to remove any remaining pus/skin plug after drainage. This damages the skin.

– Apply an antibiotic ointment after to prevent infection.

– Never pop or drain pustules (small, pus-filled bumps), nodules, or cystic acne. This often worsens them.

– See a dermatologist for large, painful red bumps on the face or body.

The Bottom Line

While popping pimples can be satisfying, it can cause scarring and cause more significant problems. That’s why dermatologists caution against picking and recommend seeing a professional for severe acne issues. Following a proper skincare routine and using acne treatments is the best way to clear and prevent breakouts without causing damage to your skin. The next time you feel a pimple coming up, try to keep your hands off and let it heal safely. Your skin will thank you.

Growing up, I struggled with severe acne that left my face covered in scars. No matter what I tried - expensive creams, harsh scrubs, prescription medications - nothing seemed to get rid of those stubborn scars that made me so self-conscious. I didn't want to leave the house without caking on makeup to hide the marks, but that only made my skin worse. I felt like I would never have clear, smooth skin again. That all changed when I discovered microneedling. This treatment uses tiny needles to create controlled micro-injuries under the skin's surface, which triggers the body's natural healing process. New collagen is produced, pores become less visible, and scars are dramatically improved. While it may sound scary, microneedling is a minimally invasive procedure with excellent results. After researching microneedling extensively and saving up for the treatment, I finally booked my first appointment. I was nervous but desperate to treat my severe acne scarring. The dermatologist explained the process thoroughly and assured me it was safe and effective. We decided to do three sessions spaced one month apart for optimal results. The first session was uncomfortable but not overly painful. I could immediately see that my skin was glowing and looked tighter. Over the next few weeks, my acne scars started improving. I was amazed by the transformation in my third and final microneedling session. Those unsightly divots and discolorations that had plagued me for years were practically invisible. My skin tone was more even, pores were minimized, and I looked years younger. Microneedling stimulates collagen production beneath the skin's surface, so effects continue to improve in the months following treatment. I diligently applied sunscreen and serums my dermatologist recommended to protect and enhance my results. It's been over a year since my last session, and I still can't get over how incredibly smooth and precise my skin looks. For anyone struggling with severe acne scarring, I can't recommend microneedling enough. This treatment changed my life and gave me the confidence to go makeup-free. I no longer need to hide behind layers of foundation and concealer. I'm constantly getting compliments from friends who want to know how I achieved such flawless, even-toned skin. Of course, I'm happy to share the secret of microneedling! While results vary, I believe that most acne scar sufferers would benefit tremendously from professional microneedling sessions. Mild scarring can often be corrected in just 1-3 treatments, while severe scarring like mine may require 3-6 sessions. While not cheap, to me microneedling was worth every penny. But make sure to see an experienced dermatologist instead of attempting to do it yourself at home. In addition to dramatically improving acne scars, microneedling can reduce fine lines, shrink enlarged pores, smooth rough texture, and brighten dull skin. Each session stimulates new collagen and elastin while also increasing product absorption. Most people can return to work immediately with only a few days of slight redness. Microneedling combines with other popular skin treatments like chemical peels or laser resurfacing. My dermatologist recommended we do some light peels in between each microneedling session to maximize results. But microneedling alone made a massive difference in treating my severe acne scarring. While results vary by individual, most people see significant improvement in acne scars from microneedling. Just follow your dermatologist's before and after care instructions carefully. Use sunscreen religiously, avoid picking at your skin, and invest in high-quality skincare products. Take a "before" photo so you can track your satisfying progress. If unsightly acne scars are impacting your self-esteem, I urge you to consider microneedling. Finding this secret treatment completely transformed my skin and gave me confidence. I no longer feel like I have to hide behind makeup thanks to the smooth, clear complexion microneedling helped me achieve. Seek out an experienced professional and book a consultation to learn more. I promise you won't regret it!

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