It may be fair to say pimple-popping has a cult following. With YouTube channels and virtual forums dedicated to zit-popping, and even the recent phenomena of pimple-popping celebrities, it seems clear that there is some kind of fascination with the manipulation of the blemish. Satisfying as a good popping session might be for some, pimple-popping can cause scars, and even worsen acne. What’s a popaholic to do? If you are among those who can’t keep your hands away from your pus-filled friends, here are a few healthier skin care options.
What’s Wrong With Picking?
Zayika Rice, MD, at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta advises you to think of a pimple as a little sack filled with bacteria, debris, and oil. “What we call the pustule is actually keeping the bacteria nice and contained,” she says. Therefore, when you break the sack, the gunk oozes out, landing in other pores and causing more pimples. Even worse, picking a pimple can force all that debris even deeper into your skin and the bacteria already on your finger can make the zit even redder, more inflamed, infected and swollen, and could result in permanent scarring.
What’s the best thing to do? “Let a pimple run through its life span,” advises Rice. A pimple left alone should heal within 3 to 7 days, while one popped improperly can result in a lifetime of scarring.
Leave It To A Professional
Dermatologists know how to safely pop a pimple. They put on a pair of medical glovess, lance the pimple using a sterilized needle, and use a comedone extractor to suck out the gunk. However, if you simply can’t leave it well enough alone, there is a method to the madness.
Pimple Popping 101
- Wait for the perfect moment. When your pimple has a firm white head, it means the pus is nearing the surface and ready for drainage.
- Wash your hands well with soap and water. Use a fingernail brush to clean your nails.
- Sterilize a straight pin by holding it up to a flame. Let it cool, and wipe it with some rubbing alcohol. Apply the alcohol to the zit as well as your fingers.
- Dry fingers and wrap them in a clean tissue.
- Hold pin parallel to the skin’s suface and lightly pierce the very tip of the zit’s center.
- Use your fingers, or a swab of cotton to gently squeeze the pimple, pressing around, and not on the tip of the blemish. If the pus does not emerge easily, stop. That means the pimple has not reached its time.
- Apply more alcohol or a bit of bacitracin to the remains.
If you’re among those who can resist the carnal urge of the zit pop, there is always the makeup alternative. Rice advises chosen a noncomedogenic cover up, which means it won’t block your pores. She advises you to keep it to a minimum. “Less is more when it comes to covering up a blemish,” she says.
Hollywood makeup artist Tasha Reiko Brown advises, “When you’re trying to hide a pimple, your aim is to take away the redness, not flatten it out. If you keep piling on layers of makeup, you’ll be creating a little mountain. It may not be a red mountain, but it will still be bigger and more noticeable than when you start out.”
Brown recommends using a concealer that matches your skin tone, or a foundation in a dry, rather than creamy texture. These are most commonly found in pots or sticks.
When it comes to methods of application, Brown goes for a brush with short bristles, rather than her fingers. “That way I can get the concealer right where I need it without leaving a fingerprint behind,” she says.