Is Pimple Popping Bad for Your Skin?

September 14, 2022

teenage girl wonders is popping pimples bad?

The Short Answer Is Yes! Learn More About the Top 5 Reasons Not to Pop!

Pimple popping, as seen on those super popular YouTube videos, is something that really should be left to the professionals. According to Dr. Chase Kwon of U.S. Dermatology Partners in Fairfax, Virginia, “Many people find watching those pimple popping videos entertaining, and there is certainly something satisfying about seeing a pimple pop. While it may seem like a straightforward procedure, pimple popping can expose people to many skin health issues, so it’s important that a board-certified dermatologist performs the procedure to reduce the associated risks.” In this blog, Dr. Kwon talks about some of the skin health concerns related to pimple popping and provides recommendations for how to care for the skin to reduce the number and severity of pimples.

Why Is Pimple Popping Bad for Skin?

When it comes to the reasons pimple popping is considered bad for skin, Dr. Kwon says, “While it may seem benign or even beneficial to pop pimples, it can actually lead to greater risk for a number of skin health issues. One of the main reasons I recommend my patients avoid popping pimples is that it makes the blemishes more noticeable. While a raised bump or slightly discolored new pimple may be seen by someone who’s paying close attention, popping pimples tends to cause increased redness, bruising, scabs, and other changes to skin health that are much more noticeable than the pimple itself.” In addition to making the appearance of blemishes more obvious, five other important reasons to avoid popping pimples include:

Reason 1 – Inflammation

Popping pimples can lead to increased inflammation and puffiness in the affected area. This is what makes your blemish more noticeable after you pop it. Inflamed skin is discolored and puffy, immediately drawing more attention to your pimples.

Reason 2 – Pain

In addition to making pimples more noticeable, popping can lead to increased discomfort throughout the healing process. The inflamed skin after popping may feel irritated, become bruised, and generally be more painful.

Reason 3 – Infection

Blemishes can become infected on their own when bacteria are trapped inside of clogged pores, but popping pimples exposes them to bacteria and other foreign matter on the hands, which can lead to a significantly greater risk for skin infection.

Reason 4 – Slower healing

During an acne breakout, the last thing you want is for the experience to last longer. That’s one of the main reasons so many people are tempted to pop pimples. Unfortunately, after popping, the skin may heal more slowly, increasing the length of the breakout rather than making it go by faster.

Reason 5 – Scarring

In addition to these immediate effects, the single most important reason that Dr. Kwon advises against pimple popping is that it also significantly increases the risk of permanent scarring. By popping blemishes, you may create larger wounds that don’t heal correctly, causing irregularities in the texture of skin known as scarring. According to Dr. Kwon, “Whereas even severe acne can be successfully managed with the help of a board-certified dermatologist, patients’ attempts to pop their own pimples may result in scarring that is not only disfiguring and permanent, but extremely difficult to treat, often requiring expensive laser sessions, and not uncommonly, failing to achieve satisfactory clearance.”

How Should I Care for Pimples Instead?

According to Dr. Kwon, “Rather than popping pimples, you should take steps to keep skin healthier and prevent blemishes before they develop. During an active breakout, there are a few other ways to reduce the size of blemishes, relieve pain, and reduce the severity of breakouts.” Below, we’ve outlined some of Dr. Kwon’s top recommendations for addressing breakouts without popping pimples.

Maintain a Consistent Morning & Evening Skincare Routine

Maintaining a consistent and effective daily skincare routine is the most important step toward preventing blemishes before they happen and keeping skin healthy. A good morning and evening skincare regimen can also ensure that blemishes that develop are cleared up more quickly. Dr. Kwon emphasizes the importance of protecting your skin during the day and repairing the skin overnight.

A good morning skincare routine for those with acne or blemishes should include:

  • Cleanser – Gently cleanse the skin to remove oils, dirt, and grime.
  • Treatments & serums – Apply acne spot treatments, serums, and other skin treatments to address symptoms and/or as recommended by your dermatologist.
  • Moisturize – It may seem counterintuitive to add moisture to oily, blemish-prone skin, but without adequate hydration, the skin will continue to produce excessive amounts of oil, which contribute to clogged pores. For this reason, a lightweight moisturizer can actually help to prevent blemishes. Patients with oilier skin may benefit from moisturizers that are labeled as “acne-free,” “non-acnegenic,” or “non-comedogenic.”
  • Sunscreen – As a final but crucial step, apply sunscreen. This protects against additional skin damage from the sun that can contribute to more painful acne breakouts and prolong blemishes

A good evening skincare routine for blemish and acne-prone skin should include:

  • Remove cosmetics – If applicable, use a makeup remover to take off any cosmetics without scrubbing the skin.
  • Cleanser – Use a gentle cleanser to clean the skin.
  • Treatments & serums – At night, you may want to include a retinol treatment in your skincare routine. Retinols can help restore and repair the skin, with the potential benefits of reducing the severity of blemishes and scars, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and preventing new acne bumps from developing. Consider speaking with a board-certified dermatologist to determine if a retinol-based product would be safe and appropriate to include in your skin care.
  • Moisturize – You may want to use a thicker, cream-based moisturizer at night, especially during the dry fall and winter months, but if your skin is especially oily, you may want to use the same lightweight moisturizer from your daytime skincare routine year-round. Especially for those that apply retinol-based products, moisturizers can help to ameliorate some of the resultant dryness and make the treatment more tolerable.

Apply Spot Treatments

Spot treatments can be extremely beneficial to directly address blemishes without stripping necessary moisture from other areas or causing irritation or inflammation to healthy parts of the skin. Epionce Purifying Spot Gel is one of our most recommended products for people who are dealing with frequent blemishes and/or acne breakouts.

Don’t Forget to Exfoliate

Exfoliation is an important part of any skincare routine, but it can be especially important for those who are prone to pimples or acne breakouts. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, which can help to prevent pores from clogging. Removing dead skin cells also promotes healthy cell turnover, encouraging the production of new skin cells as well as increasing collagen and elastin production. In addition to the daily use of exfoliants, chemical peels once a week or every few weeks can be beneficial for people who frequently develop blemishes. Skinbetter Science AlphaRet Exfoliating Peel Pads is a quick and easy at-home chemical peel option that can be used as a full-face chemical peel or just to target problem areas affected by acne breakouts.

Incorporate Retinols into Your Routine

Retinols help to unclog pores, smooth away dead skin cells, and reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, and other irregularities in the skin’s texture. Some of the retinol products you may want to consider as part of your acne skincare routine include:

Use Cold & Warm Compresses

For large, painfully inflamed pimples, alternate cold and warm compresses. Cold compresses can be used to soothe skin and numb pain. You can create a cold compress using a cotton ball or reusable cotton pad. Simply soak the item in cool water (you can also soak the cotton ball or pad with witch hazel or other skincare products). Then, place them in the freezer for about ten minutes or until cold. Apply the compress for a few minutes to areas with painful blemishes.

If you have large, deep pimples that feel like they may be close to popping, you may be able to alleviate the pressure of these blemishes without popping. Instead, apply a warm compress to the inflamed pimples. When larger cysts and blemishes are close to popping, the warm, moist heat from the compress may cause them to drain without being popped. Additionally, warm compresses help to soften skin and reduce inflammation. You can create a warm compress by placing a washcloth in warm water. Then, apply the warm washcloth to the blemishes for a few minutes at a time.

Dermatologists Can Help Prevent Pimples

Like most dermatologic conditions, pimple prevention is just as important as treatment. Working with a board-certified dermatologist, you can develop the best skincare routine uniquely customized to help you avoid blemishes, reduce acne breakouts, and keep your skin healthy and beautiful. If you’re ready to work with a dermatologist to achieve your skincare goals, we hope you’ll reach out to the U.S. Dermatology Partners team. To get started, you simply need to complete our online scheduling form. Once a local dermatology team receives your scheduling request, we’ll be in touch to finalize the details of your visit.

Find a location near me


Featured Physician

Find a location