Skin Picking Survival Guide: What to Do When You Pop a Pimple

June 30, 2016
Jessica Khorsandi
By: Jessica Khorsandi | by L'Oréal
Skin Picking Survival Guide: What to Do When You Pop a Pimple

You promised yourself you wouldn’t pop that zit that’s taken up (seemingly) permanent residence on your face. But now, you’re guilty as charged, and there’s no rewind button. What now? Step one: Don’t panic. Fingers crossed you followed proper pimple-popping protocol—hold a warm compress to the area to soften the blemish, wrap your fingers in tissue and apply gentle pressure—to keep the damage as minimal as possible. (We’re not advising you to do this, by the way.) To care for skin post-pop, follow these steps:


Chances are you’re noticing skin that’s angry and red at the attack site. Wrap an ice cube in a plastic bag or paper towel and apply it to the area for a few minutes to help calm the situation down


Since the skin around the blemish is broken, you want to avoid using harsh astringents or products that can further aggravate the area. If you have a topical antibiotic handy, apply a thin layer to the popped pimple. 


Spot treatments containing common acne-fighting ingredients—think: salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide—will likely be ineffective at this stage of the game, and may even cause irritation and drying. To help keep bacteria at bay, apply an anti-bacterial emollient to keep the area moist and protected. If you have trouble looking at a swollen welt in the mirror, consider covering the blemish with a bandage. 


Let your skin do its thing, and leave it alone—for real—for a few hours. If you notice a scab forming, do not—we repeat, do not—pick at it! Doing so may lead to scarring or infection, which you definitely want to avoid. Allow your skin to properly heal on its own. That also means being wary of cosmetics use, especially if the skin is open. If you must wear makeup, make sure the blemish area has a protective film or barrier over it to lower the risk of bacteria getting in and wreaking havoc. 

Looking for ways to (finally) stop picking at your skin? We discuss some helpful tips to curb the bad habit, here

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