We all know that popping pimples is one of the worst things to do for your skin health—but that doesn’t always stop us from doing it. Here’s how to remedy this less-than-ideal situation, according to a dermatologist.
Step away from the mirror
First things first: “put the [magnifying] mirror away and stay out of the bathroom; it is not your friend,” says board-certified dermatologist Ava Shamban, M.D. Keeping yourself as far away from the temptation to continue picking at what you’ve already popped is the best way to prevent yourself from wreaking further havoc on your skin. That means walking away from the bathroom, which is a triggering space for pimple pickers.
Picking at a popped pimple is the worst thing you can do—it can leave a lasting scar or result in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. If you really can’t hold back, then cover up the spot with a pimple patch. As an added benefit, some pimple patch options come infused with soothing ingredients like aloe vera or hyaluronic acid that can speed up the healing process.
A cool compress is your friend
“The forced trauma of pushing the contents to the surface often brings up blood with the pustule contents through the pore,” Shamban explains. If this is your experience, then immediately wash your hands and gently apply a cool compress until the bleeding stops.
The second step is to soothe the swelling with ice. “A cold compress or ice pack (not ice directly to the skin) can be helpful,” says Shamban. Wrap an ice cube in tissue or use a chilled ice roller to lightly press the inflamed area.
Keep inflammation and infection at bay
To soothe inflammation and redness, use topical treatments like chamomile, which has been used for generations to treat wounds and skin irritations because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Tea tree oil diluted in water is another good remedy for your popped pimple because it is now an open wound. Tea tree oil has antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties, which will keep the wound clean, and researchers have observed an increase in white blood cell activity linked with tea tree oil use, which is essential for the acne-healing process.
Try to stay away from heavy-duty antibacterials like hydrogen peroxide, because even though it will effectively kill harmful bacteria, “it can irritate, burn, or otherwise exacerbate the open wound and slow the healing process and formation of the scab,” Shamban explains. You should also avoid exfoliating around the area until the skin is healed.
If your popped pimple is very painful and isn’t getting better, then consider visiting your doctor.