Acne blemishes often appear very quickly, and your first reaction may be to pop the pimple. However, the short-term benefits of popping may end up leading to long-term harm to your skin. Popping the pimple destroys this barrier, exposing it to bacteria and other harmful environmental irritants. Here are a few issues that can arise from pimple popping:
The most common negative effect of popping a pimple is the development of even more pimples. This happens as excess oil and bacteria leak out of the pustule, and become reabsorbed back into the pores.
When you pop a pimple you actually create a wound in the skin. The lesion is a perfect portal for bacteria to cause infection, no matter how clean your fingers are.
As the resulting skin wound heals, a scab naturally forms. At this point you may begin to realize that scabs are extremely hard to camouflage with makeup. You may be even tempted to pick off the scab, resulting in even more damage to the skin.
Pimple popping can result in increased inflammation or irritation for two reasons. First, the physical pressing and pulling motions needed to pop a pimple often cause more inflammation in the area. Second, subsequent pus from a popped pimple is often driven deep into the skin, leading to more redness and swelling.
Skin damage from bursting the blemish can sometimes result in Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation(PIH), where areas of the skin appear darker than surrounding skin. Pimples that are larger and more inflamed have a higher chance of causing PIH when popped. While this form of skin discoloration can normalize over time, it may take years to fully disappear.
Chronic pimple popping can increase your odds of developing permanent acne scars. Instead of properly healing over time, the picking and squeezing of your acne further irritates the acne lesion. In an attempt to heal itself, the skin will often produce more collagen at the site which leads to scar contraction (a sunken acne scar).
THE BETTER WAY
Instead of popping, you may be better off treating your pimple with a topical acne product and covering it up with makeup, if desired. Otherwise, consider seeing a dermatologist, who may be able to inject a diluted corticosteroid directly into the acne nodule or cyst, and within a few hours your pimple will start to go down with minimal negative side effects.
Dr. Cindy N. Berthelot, M.D. is a board certified dermatologist treating patients in the greater Houston community, including Clearlake, League City, Friendswood, Pasadena, Deer Park, Dickinson, Pearland, Alvin, Seabrook, Kemah, Webster, Galveston, Texas City, La Marque, and Santa Fe, Texas. To make an appointment with Dr. Berthelot, please contact us at 281.480.7272.