There’s a reason why Dr. Pimple Popper’s sickly satisfying videos have racked up millions of views: Pimple popping feels freaking great. Yes, yes, you know it’s not good for your skin but getting rid of those suckers just feels So. Damn. Good. Even when you have the best intentions for leaving it alone, there it is every time you look in the mirror, taunting you, just daring you to give it a little squeeze. Of course, there will be the pesky red mark that lasts for weeks after, but you can’t think about that now. You’re in pursuit of the pimple popping high.
“When performed properly, extractions can clear certain types of pimples. However, bad techniques combined with attempts to pick non-pickable pimples can be a recipe for disaster,” Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, tells Allure. Allow us to deflate your destructive habit with some facts.
1. You’re preventing your body from healing
Acne is your body’s response to blocked pores and bacteria — that bump means your bod is doing something about it. “If you think of pimples as areas of skin where your body is trying to heal itself, it should deter the urge to pick,” Erin Gilbert, M.D., Ph.D., Vichy consulting dermatologist and celebrity skin expert, tells Allure.
2. You’ll tear your skin
“When you pop a pimple, you are forcefully pushing the contents — bacteria, oil, debris — of the acne bump out,” Sejal Shah, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, tells Allure. To do that, you actually tear the skin. So best case scenario, you’re left with an open wound instead of a bump.
3. You might make the pimple worse
Instead of making progress, you might just end up forcing the bacteria and oil down even further into the skin leading to an even larger pimple.
“As you press on the pimple, you are introducing bacteria and dirt from your finger into the zit,” says Shah. “That can cause the pimple to become more red, inflamed, swollen and infected.”
4. You might create more pimples
Ever notice that a second pimple often pops up in the place of one you just popped?
Popping a pimple — whether you’re successful or not can spawn more spots. “The bacteria, oil, and debris that are being contained by the acne papule, pustule or cyst once released, can spread and lead to more acne,” Shah says. No one wants to play Whack-a-Mole with their skin.
5. You might cause a scar
All these things can also up your risk of leaving a scar. “Scarring is also a risk for people with deeper cystic pimples. These scars are difficult to treat once they’ve occurred,” says Gilbert. “Save yourself the money you’ll have to invest in laser or filler treatment by avoiding the urge to pick.”
To fight that urge, the first step is to understand the all these downsides accompanying your popping habit, says Shah. “If you are armed with this knowledge, you may be less likely to try to pop them.”
Secondly, treat your pimples properly. “Rather than picking, apply a product with two percent salicylic acid to draw out extra oil and dry the pimple,” says Zeichner. “To help overnight, you can try a hydrocolloid bandage which both allows the skin to heal itself and prevents you from picking or scratching.”
If all else fails, replace the urge to pop with something else. “Popping a pimple is often an impulse move, so when you have the urge, try to come up with a method to divert it,” says Shah. “For example, try wearing a rubber band around your wrist and gently snapping it when you feel the need the pop.”
Excuse us while we stock up on salicylic acid products and rubber bands.
For more simple pimple solutions:
- Here’s Exactly How to Cover Every Type of
- 7 Ways You’re Getting Rid of Blackheads
- 9 At-Home Skin Care Gadgets For Every Skin
But if you’re gonna do it anyway…