Question: Does popping pimples make them go away faster?
No. Popping pimples does not make them go away faster. Seriously, keep your hands away from your face at all times, especially if you have active acne.
It’s not so much that touching your skin will spread bacteria and worsen acne, but more often than not, when most people touch their face, they use their fingers to “scan” for any surface irregularities. Whenever they feel a bump or a scab, there’s a compulsion to try to squeeze and pick it off.
Preventing yourself from touching your face means preventing yourself from "feeling" any blemishes and thereby avoiding the impulse to pop anything. In my experience, picking and popping pimples spreads acne more than touching.
Why you shouldn't pop pimples
Don’t pop your pimples because doing so pushes bacteria deeper into your skin and helps it spread to other areas of your face. The pimple you pick could very well come back the next day, especially if you fail to extract the root of the pimple completely. Picking at spots can also cause more pimples to pop up around the picked areas of your skin, so the more pimples you pick, the more pimples you get.
Not to mention, popping pimples can often cause scarring and red marks that last for a very long time. Popping and squeezing zits is actually damaging to your skin. Would you rather have a red spot on your face for around a week or a scar that sticks around for several months or possibly years?
Popping pimples makes things worse
I have actually tried a personal experiment to see if popping pimples makes them heal faster:
It’s weird, but I often get symmetrical pimples. For example, if one pops up under my right cheek, it will most likely have a pimple twin on my left cheek the next morning. The last time this happened, I left one pimple alone until it came to a head and popped it and spot treated the other one continuously without popping it.
A week later, the one I popped had flattened but was replaced with a red mark. Smaller pimples, its minions I suppose, sprouted up around it. The one that I didn’t pop but just spot treated looked dry and less red, but still a bit raised. I could tell that it would go away on its own but would just need more time.
When I was figuring out how to clear my acne, I also took pictures of my skin and kept a detailed diary of what I did to my skin, when I broke out, etc. Going back through my records, I realized that popping pimples kept me in the cycle of getting more pimples.
While I thought popping the pimple and having it flatten was helping it heal faster, it was actually contributing to me getting more pimples in that area 5-6 days later. I learned that most pimples need to be left alone, but there is one kind of pimple that will heal faster after you extract it.
What kind of pimple can you pop?
This is the kind of pimple that has come to a white or yellow, pus-filled head. It looks really ugly, but most of its inflammation has gone away so it doesn't feel too tender to the touch anymore. When a pimple reaches this stage, it's pretty much ready to die. Pricking the top and gently squeezing out the white stuff will only help get rid of it faster. Even if you don't pop it, it may pop on its own while you wash your face.
The only time popping pimples will make them heal faster is when the pimples are already at the end of their life cycle. They will go away faster after you squeeze out the pus because the plug of the pimple has already mostly been pushed out of your pore. When you pop pimples that are in the beginning or middle stages of their life (i.e. pimples without a head or ones that have come to a head but still kind of hurt), you will usually make things worse. You pretty much anger the pimple by pushing the clog deeper into your skin or further inflaming the blockage.
In my opinion, I would rather have a longer-lasting pimple that goes away scar-free instead of a pimple that flattens faster but definitely leaves its mark and causes me to get more pimples.
If you still must pop your pimples, please read this first so you will at least know how to pop them the proper way.
Last updated: August 30, 2012
Back « Skin FAQ
- Four Golden Rules for Beautiful Skin
- Body Acne Map
- Acne Treatments: Apple Cider Vinegar Toner
- How to Choose the Right Sunscreen
- Use Retinoids the Right Way