Experts recommend always going to a dermatologist to get an extraction properly done
If you can’t wait for a doctor’s appointment, there is a way to pop a pimple at home without damaging your skin
There are other ways to pop a zit other than squeezing it
If you really have to pop your pimple, use Q-Tips instead of your fingers, squeeze gently, and then put a dermatologist-approved topical treatment on top
We’ve all been there — a giant (and usually painful) pimple pops up at the worst possible moment, and you want to get rid of it ASAP. The truth is, you really should wait it out or go to a dermatologist, said Dhaval Bhanusali, a dermatologist in New York.
“It’s by far the smartest thing you can do if you want to avoid costly laser fees later on,” he told INSIDER.
But what if you can’t hold out for a doctor’s appointment? There is a way to pop your own zits at home (although every single dermatologist INSIDER spoke to discourages performing your own extractions).
“Popping a pimple seems really simple, but there is a special technique to prevent complications,” said Jennifer Channual, a California-based dermatologist. “When you squeeze a pimple, you might be pushing the contents not only out to the surface but also below the skin, which can cause inflammation and may make the pimple take longer to resolve,” she told INSIDER.
So how do you avoid all the irritation and just get rid of the pimple? INSIDER spoke to board-certified dermatologists to get the best tips on how to extract a blemish properly.
Be aware of the risks.
Squeezing your own zits comes with a lot of potentially bad consequences, so it’s better to only do so if it’s an emergency, said Jennifer Kitchin, a New York-based dermatologist. “Picking and popping your pimples puts you at risk for scarring and infection, and is not a smart solution for your acne,” she said. “See your board certified dermatologist for a personalized acne treatment regimen, so that you will have treatments at your fingertips to both treat and prevent acne breakouts.”
Focus on mitigating inflammation, said Avnee Shah, a dermatologist in New Jersey. “The pressure you put on a pimple may cause puss to come out, but it usually causes intense inflammation at the bottom as well — which tends to leave behind a red or brown spot,” she said. “The less inflammation caused, the better the spot will heal.”
Consider non-invasive treatments first.
While your first instinct may be to squeeze the blemish on your face, Bhanusali said that there is a less-risky alternative.
“Apply ice to the area for a few seconds to constrict the blood flow so it looks less red,” he said. “Then put over-the-counter cortisone and a touch of benzoyl peroxide onto to a bandage and put that on at night. By morning, should be 75 percent better.”
If you’re not feeling the ice cube hack, New York-based dermatologist Susan Bard told INSIDER to use drying topical products. “Try applying some acne medicine as a spot treatment to help dry out the pimple,” she said. “Don’t overdo it, as it can cause the skin to get dry or even break down — which will ultimately take longer to heal.”
If you’re looking for another idea, California-based dermatologist Kate Gant says heat can help. “Soak a clean washcloth in warm water and gently hold it over the offending blemish for two minutes,” she told INSIDER. “This is the safest way to help closed comedones (whiteheads) erupt without extra trauma that can lead to scarring. ”
Make sure it’s ready to pop.
It’s important to wait until a pimple is completely ready to pop, Andrew Kim, a dermatologist in New Hampshire, told INSIDER.
“Popping pimples is all about mitigating the collateral damage,” he said. “Most people pop them too early before they are ripe and end up squeezing too hard, causing the pimple to rupture underneath the skin rather than out. When done correctly, [extractions] can help speed the healing process.”
Bard agreed with Kim, noting that you should only extract pimples that are fully on the surface of the skin. If you have a deep pimple, Bard said you should either go see a dermatologist or put an over-the-counter topical treatment on it.
Keep it clean and quick.
If you must pop your pimple, keep it as sanitary as possible, Tennessee-based dermatologist Carley Fowler told INSIDER. “The best way to pop a pimple at home is to use two Q-Tips and squeeze from the base,” she said. “This minimizes trauma to the surrounding skin, which will decrease inflammation and pigment deposition after the fact. After you pop it, apply a thin film of benzoyl peroxide gel (which is available over the counter) to kill the bacteria causing the pimple. Cover with a spot band-aid for a few hours, and you should heal in a few days.”
Bard added that you should never force a pimple to pop, as it could be a sign that it’s not ready to be extracted. “Do not press hard,” she said. “If nothing comes out, stop.”
Treat it with a dermatologist-approved topical
It’s important to trust the pros when it comes to what products you use on your skin, Christina Haverstock, a dermatologist in North Carolina, told INSIDER. “I do not recommend mixing homemade tinctures of essential oils or home ingredients,” she said. “I have seen many chemical burns from tea tree oil, vinegar, and other pantry items inappropriately applied to zits.”
Looking for suggestions? All of these dermatologists recommended products with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. They’re easy to find (just check your local drugstore), and they’ll clear up your stubborn zit quickly — without wreaking havoc on your skin.