To Pop a Pimple or Not to Pop a Pimple?
The other day, my lovely friend and coworker came into my office, and, while I usually love her, at this moment, I really, really hated her. She stomped into my office, pointed at her chin and said, “Look. At. THIS.” It was a whitehead — one of her first-EVER whiteheads. One of her first-ever whiteheads in ALL of her 20-something years of life. See how those feelings of hate seeped in?
“Should I pop it?” she asked. And I realized, though I’ve had many a whitehead — I mean, given my life experience with whiteheads, one could basically call me an expert — I didn’t know the answer. I lack self control and, like I pretty much always finish the entire bottle of wine, I pretty much always pop a nagging pimple. So while I knew what I would do, I didn’t truly know what the true right move was. However, I did remember that back when I chatted with About Face’s Naomi Fenlin last year, she told me to never, ever pop a pimple lest I’d like to see more pimples pop up in the area soon after.
I decided to give Fenlin a call yesterday for a refresher on why, exactly, we should all resist the nagging urge to pop a painful pimple. And let me tell you: After chatting with her, I will be keeping my paws away from my face, even if it means I have to tie them behind my back.
As Fenlin explained, if you really, really know what you’re doing and you have a good, straight-on view of the pimple, you can pop a pimple safely. The issues with this: Most of us don’t know what we’re doing and getting a good view of a pimple on a contoured area of your face is damn near impossible.
So, what happens when us amateur pimple-poppers try our hand at it anyway? Well, as Fenlin explains, a pimple is the result of build up of biological debris inside of the pore. As the debris collects, the walls of the pore tear open which creates, essentially, a wound within your pore. Now, when most of us pop a pimple, what ends up happening is we make that wound larger: When you pop a pimple, while some of the gunk might ooze out of your face (gross, I know — but accurate), you also end up pushing some of that debris further down into the pore, sometimes into neighboring pores and sometimes all the way down into the tissue of your face.
In case you hadn’t figured it out, this is bad.
As Fenlin explains, all of this creates tons of inflammatory damage, which leads to swelling. And when you push the debris through to the tissue, deepening the damage, the chance that you’ll end up with a scar where that pimple once was sky rockets. Plus, when debris gets pushed into neighboring pores, it has to make its way out somehow. Which means you’ll soon see a new pimple pop up near the one you just popped. NOOOOOOOOO.
So, what should you do with a pimple that is just begging to be popped? Leave it alone, Fenlin says. I know, it’s so hard. Like should-be-considered-an-Olympic-sport hard. But as she explains, your body will eventually do the job of popping the pimple itself by putting pressure on it from below and pushing all that gunk up to the surface — and just the surface. Meantime, Fenlin suggests applying a warm compress to the pimple to draw the gunk up, then topping it off with a bit of benzoyl peroxide, which helps break down the debris inside of the pore so it can eventually work its way up. Then, wait it out.
You can do it.
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