What You're Actually Doing When You Pop Your Zit

When you're sporting a monstrous pimple, your automatic reaction might be to get rid of the blighter by giving it a squeeze. But, before you resort to taking matters into your own hands, you probably want to discover what you're actually doing when you try to pop your own zit. Because nobody wants to make matters worse when it comes to their skincare!

You might have tried all of the unusual acne treatments out there — from zit-fighting home remedies, to seemingly every pimple product in the pharmacy — so by now you may have had enough. As someone who spent a few years in adolescence with an unrelenting smattering of spots, I know how it feels to be haunted by zits. From my experience, I felt frustrated, as if I would be eternally cursed with pus-filled pores and that when people looked my way, they saw my zits rather than the real me.

Although you may be at the end of your tether when it comes to struggling with pimples (especially if they've followed you into adulthood) you should still learn about the realities of what happens when you squeeze your spots. There are some experts that warn against popping pimples, but you might know someone that's a serial squeezer, who hasn't experienced any repercussions.

To get a professional opinion on the matter, I spoke with a couple of dermatologists to find out what you're actually doing when you try to pop your own zit.

"When you try to pop a pimple you run the risk of forcing the debris and bacteria in the pimple deeper into your skin," says Dr. Hadley King dermatologist at SKINNEY Medspa, in an email to Bustle.

"You can also introduce more bacteria from your fingers into the pimple," Dr. King warns, "this can make the pimple more red, swollen, inflamed, and even infected, and all of this can make the pimple last longer and increases the risk for discoloration and even permanent scarring." Now that's certainly enough to put you off pimple popping for life!

However, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Janet Prystowsky, explains there is one exception. In an email to Bustle Dr. Prystowsky says, "When you pop a zit that is so close to your skin's surface that you can practically wipe it off to drain it, then you will not cause a problem and are in fact helping it drain!"

But, when it comes to zits that are not almost on the surface of your skin, it's another matter entirely. "For deeper pimples, where you squeeze and nothing comes out, you are making things worse!" Says Dr. Prystowsky.


"These are cystic pimples where there has been some breakdown of the follicle/pore deep in your skin inciting an inflammation reaction. Squeezing will cause further breakdown of the follicle/pore and lead to more oil and bacteria (pimple debris) getting into your deeper skin tissues," she explains.

"This causes more inflammation," Dr. Prystowsky elaborates, "so now that painful nodule will get bigger and hurt more! Not what you wanted. It will also take longer for it to go away and might even leave a scar." If it does get to this stage though, there is a solution, "Acne lesions like this fade more quickly if injected with steroids; the inflammatory reaction dissipates more quickly," says Dr. Prystowsky.

Now you know the reality of what happens when you pop your pimples, perhaps you'll think twice about it!

Images: Kjerstin_Michaela (1) /Pixabay; Sergey Fediv (1), Swaraj Tiwari (1) /Unsplash