Quit squeezing! Here's why you should leave your zits alone
We've all been there—your Uber is coming in seven minutes and you've just finished getting ready, only to catch a glimpse of your face in the hall mirror and see a frighteningly large zit on the tip of your nose. That's when you face the age-old dilemma: do you pop the pimple or leave it be?
Contrary to teen movies and popular media, popping a pimple isn't the only way to get rid of it. In fact, pimple popping can actually make the problem much worse! Instead of squeezing or popping a zit, it's important to use an acne spot treatment, blackhead remover, or specialized cleanser to try and get to the root of the problem. If you're struggling with regular acne flare-ups, your dermatologist can help you find new treatments for blemish control.
Why is it so important to have a "hands-off" policy with pimples?
1. Torn skin turns into an open wound.
Believe it or not, when you pop a pimple, you're actually tearing your own skin to give that pus a place to go. All of a zit's contents, including bacteria, dirt, and oil, are being forced out of their little capsule of skin. Sound painful? That's because it is: unsuccessfully popping a pimple can result in red, puffy, swollen skin—but a successful pop can leave an open wound.
2. Popped pimples can leave scars.
This is perhaps the most obvious reason—because your pimple is now an open wound, it's more likely to turn into a scar. Many years down the line, severe acne scars may require laser treatment or specialized skin fillers to hide or reduce the symptoms. Especially for people who suffer from deep-tissue pimples or acneic cysts, scars are much more likely to come from a popped pimple than one that was left to heal on its own.
3. Bacteria and oil have nowhere to go.
Even if you manage to pop a pimple and release that nasty pus, the action of popping forces oil and bacteria deeper into your skin tissue. In the best case scenarios, this can lead to more acne. In the worst case, over-popped pimples can lead to a bacteria buildup that turns into a painful (and potentially dangerous) skin infection. If you resist the popping urge, your bank account will thank you—many people who pop their way into a deep skin infection will need to pay for expensive dermatology and restoration treatments down the road.
4. Your body can't heal properly.
When you're putting your skin through the stress of stretching, squeezing, and popping, you're not giving it enough of a chance to heal. Think about the last time you had a sore spot in your mouth—you knew it could heal if you left it alone, but you just couldn't stop poking it with your tongue! The skin that suffers from acne needs as much healing time as the skin on the inside of your mouth: if you keep messing with it, you prolong the healing process, and only end up making the problem worse. Plus, acne is the body's natural response to an over-buildup of bacteria and blocked pores. Your body is doing its best to heal, so it's in your best interests to let it do its thing!
5. More pimples might show up!
Horror of horrors! There's nothing worse than finally popping a pimple only to look at it two hours later and see two more on either side. This happens because all that nasty bacteria and oil trapped beneath the surface of the pimple found new homes in the pores around the original zit. When this nasty stuff spreads, it leads to more—and more—pimples.
All in all, it's a good call to leave your skin alone when you're struggling with pimples. If you're about to head out for a social event, you may consider trying an acne spot treatment, or a careful foundation or concealer application (so long as you keep that area clean and remove any makeup as soon as you get home!). The last thing you want to do is make a pimple worse.
Distract yourself from popping urges as best you can, and keep your skin cleansed and moisturized. If need be, a trip to your dermatologist can help clear up the peskiest acne issues. You've got this!