Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist - Written by Viddhi Patel (Journalist) on 20th Oct 2020
Is the temptation to pop that pimple worth it? Here's our view
Imagine that you've got a date lined up, and you've been waiting for this forever! You look into the mirror while getting all dolled up and see a strange thing perched on your face! You look closer, and there it is! A huge pimple.
The urge to get rid of it overpowers you. And you squeeze the life out of it. But was it worth it? Is it worth it! To pop a pimple and scar your face? Yes, it was satisfying, and for a while it didn’t look ugly on your beautiful face. But that's only TEMPORARILY.
What about the mark it left behind as a souvenir?
What if it keeps coming back?
Was it right to pop it in the first place? And what do we do, just let it steal the show every time you want to look good?
To all those questions, dermatologists would say: Yes!
You should let the pimple stay undisturbed. An incorrect technique of popping and getting the pus out may increase the risk of scarring and infection.
Why did the pimple appear in the first place?
Pimples or zits show up when pores of your skin are blocked. Other than that, hormones, bacteria, dead skin cells, and oils clogging your skin pores can be the reason for the acne flare-up.
Healthy foods can certainly help your skin glow and stay healthy.
The skin cells surrounding your hair follicles stick together, creating a hard plug that blocks your pores. The pore is clogged with oil, sebum, or pus and results in inflamed, bumpy skin.
The hair follicle eventually bursts and breaks the clog free, initiating the healing process. This process is how your body naturally deals with clogged pores and acne.
The triggers of a pimple:
- Allergic reactions
- Ingrown hair
- Excess sebum production
- Dead skin cells
Mostly the acne breakout during your teen years is a result of hormonal fluctuations. But adults suffer from acne, too. Identifying the kind of acne you are experiencing will help you treat it better.
Treat your pimples tenderly!
The pimple is like a little sack holding oil, debris, and bacteria, and bursting it will lead that bacteria right into other pores causing more pimples to form.
The gunk is supposed to be tightly contained by the pustule and messing with it in any way; picking or prodding it may sink the debris deeper in the skin. Or it may transfer the bacteria in your fingers to the zit causing new kinds of bacteria developments in the skin.
This will result in a redder, inflamed, swollen, and infected zit, leaving a scar.
Yes, waiting for it to live its life out is a more challenging route to take
But you must understand that by popping a pimple forcefully, you are interfering with your skin’s natural healing mechanism.
Leave it alone!
A blemish heals in three to seven days. Or you can make it your friend who may live longer if you pop it improperly.
Scarring is scarier, and so is hyperpigmentation!
And these two are results of popping pimples. And they don’t leave easily. So, keep your hands to yourself.
Taking you through the world of zits!
Acne can form several distinctly appearing and symptomatic forms of skin blemishes.
Okay, so this nemesis of ours has various relatives and species that demand our attention.
Majorly classified, acne can be inflammatory and noninflammatory based on whether they inflame their surroundings.
These two have various subtypes of zits under them.
Inflammatory acne are red and swollen pimples. Sebum and dead skin cells along with bacteria, play a major part in pores clogging. The infection caused by bacteria reaches deep beneath the surface of the skin. Resulting in stubborn painful acne spots.
Inflammatory is a severe kind of acne and is more likely to cause scarring and pitting. Inflamed, red, swollen, warm to the touch lesions or blemishes are likely the result of inflammatory acne.
Different kind of pimples under its belt:
Mild to modest
Pustules and papules are moderately severe acne types that may require an oral or topical description from an expert rather than OTC products.
Papules form when the walls that surround the pores break down and cause severe inflammation. These are hard, tender to touch, clogged pores with a pink or red slightly swollen appearance.
Papules don’t have a center that can be seen. They can result from irritated blackheads or whiteheads that damaged the skin surrounding them, causing inflammation. They are solid, tender, pink, and raised bumps under the skin.
These kinds of blemishes are also a reason for the breakdown of walls around your pores. Pustules are different as they have pus-filled in them. And pustules bumps are larger, more inflamed, and rise above the skin.
Pustules are usually red, and the heads of pustules are white or yellow. They have a defined center with immune and bacterial cells collecting to form the pus. They are deeper acne blemishes and are harder to extract.
Modest to Critical
Nodules and cysts are the forms of acne that require dermatologists to clear it up. They are the most severe of the kind. Prodding and picking these can lead to long-term scars.
Clogged, swollen pores from further irritation grow larger and cause nodules. This skin lesion is pretty deep into the skin and cannot be typically treated at home.
They are hard, painful, inflamed lumps deep within the skin and look like larger papules with no center or head. Nodules are severe and can cause skin complications like dark spots.
Oral medication is likely to treat these to treat and prevent them by decreasing the size of oil glands within the pores.
A combination of bacteria, sebum, and dead skin cells can cause cysts by clogging pores. They are embedded in the skin deeper than nodules.
The large painful bumps are the result of a severe infection. They are the largest form of blemish, red or white, filled with pus, and are painful to touch. Cysts are most likely to leave a scar.
Severe cases of cysts require surgical removal.
Blackheads and whiteheads are part of noninflammatory acne forms. They don’t usually cause swelling. They are curable with OTC medicines or treatments.
Comedones are the most common and mildest form of acne.
The clogging of the pore by the combination of sebum and dead skin cells causes blackheads.
Although the pores are clogged, the top stays open, leaving the combination vulnerable to air, causing a dark spot. Hence, the black appearance.
Also called open comedones, these are small, dark-colored spots, appearing as slightly raised bumps. Their surroundings are normal and their center the darkest.
A similar combination of sebum and dead skin cells gets clogged in the pores causing whiteheads. But unlike blackheads, there is a layer of skin covering it. It appears as a tiny bump protruding from the skin.
Closed comedones are slightly harder to treat once they are closed. These small, whitish/flesh-colored bumps usually have a white circular center and are surrounded by a red halo. They do not typically cause scarring; the skin around it may appear tighter or wrinkled, especially if the closed comedones are large or raised.
A hair might seem trapped under the blemish or may appear to be emerging from the center of it.
To pop or not to pop?
The universal rule is just to let it be. According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, popping may further lead to infection and scarring, making them look even worse.
Many of you may have popped a zit in the past, and many pimples bled out on your watch. But don’t ever do the heinous crime of popping a cystic blemish or even touching some types of acne. They have a temper, and you don’t want to see what harm they can do to your skin!
Nodules and cysts are to be left alone at all costs.
Wait it out. If your budget allows you, see a dermatologist who can reduce the acne's swelling and pop it in a sterile environment.
Facials with extractions done by aestheticians help with comedones.
Boils and pimples deep under the surface shouldn’t be touched. If there is no visible blackhead or a whitehead on the pimple, you can’t pop it anyway.
So, don't try to squeeze it or apply pressure with nails as it will cause further irritation and possible exposure of the inner layers of your skin to bacteria and other irritants. It will also postpone the healing process of your pimple and cause permanent scarring.
Forget about the instant gratification you are after for a while.
There are many other options that you can opt for!
Cleansing agents, gels, foams, towelettes, leave-on products, and treatments or kits are available readily that may work just fine for mild to moderate acne or periodic breakouts.
OTC remedies containing benzoyl peroxide for daily routine by minimalist has antimicrobial properties that fight acne. It is also a deep-skin rubber along with a powerful acne eraser. Benzoyl peroxide penetrates with ease to kill the acne-causing bacteria, flushing out debris, dirt, and oils.
Salicylic works the best for noninflammatory acne as it naturally exfoliates the skin, getting rid of dead skin cells. Cleansers, toners, and moisturizes are good OTC products containing this acid.
Blackheads and whiteheads can be removed with topical OTC medications since they are the mildest form of acne.
Salicylic acid-based toners or benzoyl-peroxide based spot treatments work quite effectively on comedones. They can also be treated with topical retinoids such as adapalene.
Alpha hydroxy acids
AHAs such as glycolic acid and lactic acid are used in non-prescription acne products. They help remove dead skin cells and reduce inflammation and stimulate the growth of new smoother skin. Derived from sugar-containing fruits and milk, they improve the acne scars and tightens the pores.
Cold compresses are useful for immediate relief from inflammation and relieve the pain and swelling from cysts, nodules, and pustules. They help you calm the area and your urge to pop them.
These help the skin loose dirt and bacteria, boosting the natural healing process of clogged pores. The warmth will help soothe the pain, and the heat will help pores open and release on their own.
Natural remedies and clarifiers also work well for acne such as, aloe vera. It is believed to have efficacy in removing or drying out the clogs caused by sebum.
In Minimalist’s words:
- Don’t keep touching it. It won’t scare the zit. Instead, it will irritate it.
- Moisturize with oil-free products regularly, or the dryness may leave acne looking worse.
- UV protection. ALWAYS. According to Dr. Dray, SPF is mandatory, especially when you are on acne treatment, as your skin becomes more sensitive to UV due to certain products.
- Be consistent. Take up a routine that fits you and stick with it; let it work. Be patient.
- Do not use a scrub on your face or rub it. It will not get rid of the bacteria; it will lead to dryness and strip you of your natural oils.
- Frequent breakouts and no signs of improvement through OTC meds warrant a visit to a dermatologist.
Take up well-researched routines, drink water, and stay happy. Stress will do no good for your beauty. So, KEEP CALM and DON’T STRESS.
If the acne doesn’t appear to be healing, do not ignore the need to go to an expert.