So, You Popped a Pimple — Here’s What to Do Next and How to Help It Heal

July 07, 2022
Jessica Khorsandi
By: Jessica Khorsandi | by L'Oréal
So, You Popped a Pimple — Here’s What to do Next and How to Heal It

Popping a pimple is like a cardinal sin in the world of skincare. But if we’re being honest, we all give into temptation and pick a pimple from time to time. Sure, it’s satisfying in the moment, but as soon as the deed is done, you’re going to need to do some damage control to heal the red, angry spot that you’re left with and prevent it from turning into a scar


Here, board-certified dermatologist and consultant Dr. Arash Akhavan details how to deal with the aftermath of a popped pimple.

Why You Should Never Pop Your Pimples

By picking at your skin, you risk cross-contamination of bacteria (think about how many germs are on your hands and underneath your fingernails), possible infection, as well as the potential for visible scarring. What’s more, popping pimples may even push some of the contents of the clogged pore deeper into the skin, which can increase inflammation and lead to more breakouts


If you’re looking for ways to keep your pimples under control, reach for an acne spot treatment, like the Vichy Normaderm S.O.S. Acne Rescue Spot Corrector. These formulas contain acne-fighting ingredients that can help reduce the appearance of blemishes over time. They may not work overnight, but they can be incredibly effective with continued use. 

Vichy Normaderm S.O.S. Acne Rescue Spot Corrector

How Long Does It Take for a Popped Pimple to Heal?

While the healing time will vary from person to person, the Cleveland Clinic states that pimples typically last between three and five days. Deep pimples, however, can take up to a few weeks to go away. But remember, if you pop or pick pimples, the scarring that can occur as a result may last even longer. 

How to Heal a Popped Pimple 

What should you do after popping a pimple? Well, the area around your blemish may appear irritated immediately after you pick at it, but there are ways to speed up the healing process. Before you panic, follow these steps: 

1. Cleanse Your Skin

When the skin around the blemish is broken, it can be more susceptible to unwanted bacteria. Cleanse your skin immediately, as well as every morning and night after picking to ensure that you’re removing surface debris, dirt and makeup before it has a chance to clog your pores. Just be sure that your cleanser is a gentle one considering that your skin is still healing. We love the CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser because it gently and effectively removes dirt and excess oil without stripping the skin’s necessary moisture.


CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

2. Apply a Spot Treatment 

“I recommend drying your pimple out with a spot salicylic acid product,” says Dr. Akhavan. Salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide are both powerful acne-fighting ingredients that can be found in a wide variety of skincare products. They work as a chemical exfoliator to remove the layer of dead skin cells on the surface of your skin. As with your cleanser, choose a gentle, soothing formula that won’t cause further irritation, like the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Acne Spot Treatment, or the Vichy option mentioned above.  

3. Moisturize

Even if you have oily, acne-prone skin, you should still be using a hydrating moisturizer daily. Spot treatments and acne-fighting cleansers have a tendency to be drying. To ensure that you replenish any lost moisture, you’re going to want to grab a moisturizer or cream that works with your skin type. If you’re looking for a non-comedogenic moisturizer, we love the Kiehl's Ultra Facial Oil-Free Moisturizer for acne-prone skin. 

4. Leave It Alone

After you apply your spot treatment and moisturizer, keep your hands away from your face and allow your skin to heal on its own. Avoid touching your pimples with your fingers as much as possible. By touching the blemish, you’re only inviting more bacteria in to potentially irritate the area even further. Applying a pimple patch is a great way to keep the area clean and your hands off. The Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Original is a great option because it ensures you won’t pick your pimple and it helps to remove the gunk from it overnight. 

5. Pause on Applying Makeup

While it may be tempting to cover up the offending area with concealer and foundation right away, it’s best to keep the area clean and hydrated. If you can, wait to put on your makeup. Once your skin has recovered, you can help camouflage its appearance by reaching for a high-coverage concealer, like the Dermablend Cover Care Full Coverage Concealer.

Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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