What Happens If You Don't Pop a Pimple?

What Happens If You Don’t Pop a Pimple?

No one likes to wake up to a pimple in the middle of their face, and we certainly don’t like the idea of waiting for that pimple to go away on its own. However, the truth is that waiting it out (and following a consistent acne-treating skincare regimen) is the best thing you can do to clear a pimple.

Contrary to some myths, acne will not get worse if you don’t pop pimples. In fact, popping a pimple the wrong way or before it’s ready can cause scarring and prolong your skin’s healing process.

For the facts about what happens to a pimple if you don’t pop it and what to do instead to clear acne as quickly as possible, read on. If you just must pop a pimple, read here to find the safest way to pop a pimple.

Will a Pimple Go Away on Its Own?

Yes! Your skin uses its own natural exfoliation process to push the pimple and its contents to the surface. You can actually see this process, called “purging”, happening when you begin using a retinoid, for example. 

As the purging process occurs, the pimple will eventually rise to the skin’s surface or the inflammation will go away and the pimple will disappear on its own. 

Pimples rarely cause scabs if you don’t squeeze them. However, if you get a scab, do not pick at the scabs as this can lead to scarring and dark spots on the skin. Just like when scabs form over a cut on other areas of your body, scabs that form over a pimple will eventually shed off on their own once the skin underneath is healed. Scabs heal faster when left alone or when a topical antibiotic ointment is placed on them.

Why You Should NOT Pop a Pimple

As tempting as it might be to pop pimples as soon as you can see them on the surface, doing so can make matters worse. Here are the two main reasons NOT to pop a pimple and let them resolve on their own instead:

  1. Popping a pimple can make it last longer, by pushing bacteria and the contents of the pimple deeper into your skin. The way pimples clear on their own is by coming to the surface (in a process called desquamation) and expelling the contents (oil, dead skin cells, bacteria, and immune cells). Pushing these contents deeper slows the process and can cause a cyst.
  2. Popping a pimple can also cause scars. It is a myth that pimples are more likely to scar if you don’t pop them. In fact, the opposite is true. When you leave pimples alone, there is less inflammation and less of a chance of pushing the pimple’s contents deeper.


What Skincare Should I Use to Get Rid of Pimples?

Retinoids are a common acne treatment ingredient because they speed up the skin’s natural exfoliation process, causing pimples and their contents to come to the surface faster. Retinoids also stimulate collagen, helping your skin to repair itself more efficiently and minimizing the formation of acne scars. 

Salicylic acid is another common acne-fighting ingredient, thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and exfoliating properties. You can use a salicylic acid cleanser to help acne clear on its own. 

Other antibacterial ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and colloidal silver can be helpful when treating acne because they kill acne-causing bacteria on the skin.

Bottom Line

It is best not to pop pimples — they will eventually go away on their own. Popping pimples and picking at acne scabs can cause scarring and slow the healing process. 

If you are in a pinch, however, and must pop a pimple before a big event, for example, there is a six-step process to follow in order to minimize damage caused by popping pimples. 

Prevent pimples by getting on the best acne skincare routine for your Baumann Skin Type®.  It starts with taking the quiz.


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