What To Do After Popping A Pimple – Everything You Need To Know

Reviewed by Dr. Nermeen Bedair, MD, PhD (Dermatology)
Written by Ramona Sinha, Certified Skin Care Coach

We should avoid picking at our pimples. However, most of us can not resist the urge to play Dr. Pimple Popper, and that is when the trouble starts. Most of us don’t know much about what to do after popping a pimple and how to care for it. Scratching and popping a pimple with zero aftercare can lead to scars and dark spots. Don’t worry. We can help you with the aftercare and prevent unwanted side effects. Keep reading to learn more.

What To Do After Popping A Pimple

1. Do Not Pick At The Pimple

So you have popped the pimple. Avoid messing with it anymore. Do not pick at it and scratch it or keep squeezing it. Even if it develops a pus-filled head again, leave it alone and let your skin take care of the infection.

2. Cleanse The Blemish

Cleanse the zit gently. Use a salicylic-acid based cleanser. Avoid rubbing it too hard to prevent the risk of disturbing the zit. Don’t rub a towel to dry the skin. Gently dab with a cotton cloth. You can also use cleansers with witch hazel to reduce inflammation. Avoid trying DIY hacks at this point to avoid blemishes and scarring.

3. Use Spot Treatment

Use an antibiotic ointment and spot treatments containing tea tree oil and witch hazel extract to reduce inflammation. Witch hazel has astringent effects and anti-inflammatory properties to calm down redness and swelling. On the other hand, tea tree oil can kill acne-causing bacteria. You can dab the zit with witch hazel solution and diluted tea tree oil.

4. Control Swelling With Ice

An ice pack can reduce the redness and soreness after popping a pimple. Wrap ice cubes in a clean cloth or use an ice pack. However, this method is generally not recommended by dermatologists as it can result in cold-induced injuries.

5. Consult A Dermatologist

Start acne prevention treatment to prevent further breakouts. Consult your dermatologist for prescription acne products and antibiotics (if needed). Early treatment prevents the risk of scarring and blemishes.
Our skin and body have a natural healing system. When you pop a pimple, you interfere with the process, leading to further damage. Here is why you should avoid popping a pimple in the first place.

Why Should You Avoid Popping Your Pimples?

1. Risk Of Infections

Popping a pimple aggravates the bacterial infection. There is always a risk of transferring dirt and bacteria from our nails and fingers to the inflamed zit. Moreover, this can prolong the healing time.

2. Scarring And Hyperpigmentation

Picking at a zit can be counterproductive as it creates open wounds, and the skin may develop scars and dark spots.

Instead of popping the pimples, you can try the following alternatives to speed up the healing process.

Alternatives For Popping A Pimple

1. Products With Active Ingredients

Using products like creams, moisturizers, and cleansers containing active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid can help reduce the inflammation and clear the pimple. They promote skin exfoliation to clean the dirt, sebum, and bacteria to promote healing.

2. Pimple Patches

These are hydrocolloid patches that absorb the pus from the pimple, keep the area moisturized, and promote healing. These patches also shield the pimple from dust and dirt and prevent you from picking at it.

3. Follow Proper Skin Care Routine

Wash your face twice a day to reduce inflammation. You may use chemical exfoliators in low concentrations (if you haven’t popped the pimple) and keep the area moisturized. A proper skin care routine prevents the pimple from worsening.

If you cannot resist the urge to give it a good squeeze, you should at least do it safely. While we do not recommend popping a pimple, here are a few tips to follow to pop your zits safely.

How To Safely Pop A Pimple

1. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your skin. It will prevent the germs on your hands from infecting the skin around the pimple.

2. Apply a warm compress or wash your skin with warm water to loosen the dirt.

3. Sterilize a pin with a lighter and let it cool down. Then, wipe it with rubbing alcohol.

4. Wrap your fingers with a clean tissue and hold the pin parallel to the zit.

5. Gently pierce the pus-filled head of the pimple.

6. Squeeze it with a cotton swab. Press around the zit and not on the pus-filled center.

7. If the pus does not come out easily, the pimple is not ready to be popped. Stop immediately.

8. Apply an antibacterial ointment or witch hazel to the area.

9. After a while, clean the area and apply a pimple patch.

10. You can use an ice pack to relieve redness and soreness.

In case of stubborn pimples, you may have to consult your dermatologist.

When To Consult A Dermatologist

If the pimples refuse to go away or keep coming back, consult your dermatologist. Recurrent and stubborn pimples may need antibiotics to kill the bacteria. In such cases, the doctor can prescribe medicines and ointments, depending on the severity of your condition.

We all have done it at some point and immediately regret our decision to pick at the pimple. However, now you have a clear idea about what you must do after popping a pimple. While it is best not to touch the pimple and use patches or medications to minimize the inflammation, you can still manage the popped zit and avoid blemishes. Use topical medications and ice packs to soothe the zit and follow the tips discussed in the article to avoid pain and infection.

Key Takeaways

  • Once you’ve popped a pimple, avoid picking at it. Instead, gently cleanse the popped zit and use a spot treatment.
  • Reduce redness and swelling with ice, and consult a dermatologist for recommended acne prevention treatments.
  • Avoid popping pimples as much as possible. This may otherwise cause infections, scarring, and hyperpigmentation.
  • Instead, use products with active ingredients, pimple patches, and follow a proper skin care routine to reduce pimples.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you do not pop a pimple?

If you do not pop pimples, they go away within 3-7 days. You may notice the pus draining out. In such case, dab the area with witch hazel solution or apply a pimple patch for proper healing.


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Dr. Nermeen Bedair

(MD, Ph D)
Dr. Bedair is an academic lecturer and a consultant clinician with 17 years of experience in the university hospital and... more