You walk past a mirror and the first thing you notice is a big red angry zit staring you in the eyes. You take a closer look and feel that strong urge to squeeze it even though you know you shouldn’t pop pimples.
“But Katie, it’s so tempting and they look terrible.“
I get it. We’ve all been there but I’m here to tell you why popping and picking pimples is bad for your skin.
Usually your first instinct is to squeeze that pimple as soon as you see it. If you pop it, though, you will only make it worse. Here’s why:
Although popping pimples can be quite satisfying, doing so increases your chances of scarring. And let’s be honest, the scarring looks just as bad as the pimples themselves except the dark spots last even longer. In fact, it can take up to two years for the scars to fade away.
On top of scarring, picking pimples can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Put simply, PIH is a dark spot or patch on the skin that results from inflammation. Poking pimples causes more swelling so the more inflamed the pimple, the more likely you are to develop PIH.
Need another reason? Popping pimples can lead to indentation of the skin. These holes develop after popping a pimple and incomplete healing.
If you give into the temptation, there are things you can do to get rid of acne scars. Read this blog to learn how to speed up the process.
Do you ever notice that when you pop one pimple, a bunch more appear soon after? This happens because bacteria spreads to other areas under the skin leading to more pimples. And I think you’d agree that leaving one pimple alone is better than popping it and developing more acne.
There are other things you can do to clear your skin rather than popping pimples. Here’s what you should do instead the next time you’re dying to pick at that pimple:
Unless you know how to properly extract a pimple, I suggest you don’t touch it. Like I said before, letting the zit be will reduce your risk of scarring and further breakouts. You can also visit a well-trained esthetician who knows how to properly pop it.
If the swelling is too painful, put an ice cube in a clean face cloth and apply it to the pimple to help decrease the inflammation and thus, scarring. Remember to place the ice in a cloth to prevent damage from the ice directly on the skin.
I’m a face mask junkie and love including them as part of my self-care Sunday routine. They’re great for absorbing excess oil and drawing out impurities. One of my favourite face masks for this is BeautyCounter’s Charcoal Facial Mask. This clay mask with activated charcoal helps to detoxify and purify the skin. While the salicylic acid and lactic acid in this face mask gently exfoliates and smooths the surface of your skin.
Just as it sounds, pimple patches are patches that you put on your pimples. These can be used to help you avoid popping it or to speed up the healing process and prevent pollutants from further irritating the opened area.
Keeping the lights dim around mirrors is an effective strategy for breaking the habit of popping pimples. Bright lights make your pimple more noticeable and tempt you to squeeze it. While dim lights make it harder to see your pimple and in turn, help you to forget it’s even there.
An easy way to keep your hands away from your face is to keep them busy. Try out a new recipe, read a book or garden. Anything that will distract you from picking pimples can help.
If you need more support, I recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This treatment helps you to address emotions and thoughts that influence your behaviour. For example, if you have acne you may experience feelings of anger, annoyance, disgust, frustration, sadness, shame and low self-esteem. Those feelings may lead to behaviours such as compulsive popping of pimples, frequent mirror checks or staying away from the mirror, applying a lot of makeup to cover up your acne and avoiding social events.
CBT can help you to understand how those emotions affect your actions and develop strategies to break those habits.