Ask a Dermatologist: How to Properly Pop a Pimple

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It’s pretty common knowledge that popping pimples is a bad idea. After all, picking or extracting your own acne can lead to skin damage, like scarring, and may even result in more acne through the spread of bacteria. In an ideal world, everyone allows the life cycle of their acne to work itself out until those symptoms die a natural death, but the truth is, some people do pop their pimples, and who are we to judge? While we can’t be there in the bathroom with you to talk you out of popping that pimple into oblivion if you’re about to do so anyway, we can offer professional tips on how to pop a pimple as safely, effectively, and hygienically as possible.

Ahead, we spoke with two dermatologists to learn the best way to pop a pimple, along with a few tips for reducing acne symptoms. While neither of them would exactly recommend that people take pimple popping matters into their own hands without seeing a pro first, they do insist that three major factors should be considered if you’re gonna do it yourself: Hygiene, pressure, and the type of pimple you’re trying to eliminate.

Step 1: Sanitize

And we mean everything—your skin, your hands, any tools you may use, the towel you clean up with, the sink you’re resting any of this stuff on… if it’s going to come into contact with your newly extracted and broken skin, it needs to be bacteria-free to reduce the risk of more damage, just like the pros would do it. “When a dermatologist performs acne surgery, the technical term for pimple popping, there is a lot of prep and care that is taken in regard to the skin,” explains Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, M.D. “First, your doctor will clean their hands and apply surgical gloves. All makeup is removed from your face, then the entire area is thoroughly cleansed using rubbing alcohol.”

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