Do pimples go away without popping?

Other ways of getting rid of pimples

When you stare into the mirror and see a pimple, you’re going to get the urge to squeeze it. Especially since they show up at the worst times. Although there is never a good time to get a pimple, they always seem to make their appearance right before something important. So is it bad to pop a pimple? Yes, it is.

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Why is popping a pimple is a big deal?

Various ways of treating pimples

Think of a pimple like a little sack that holds oil, debris, and acne bacteria. The pustule is keeping the bacteria nice and contained. When you pierce the pimple’s outer skin, the grime oozes out. If the bacteria present splatters and lands on other pores, it can cause more pimples.

With continuous picking and prodding, you can force the debris and bacteria even deeper into your epidermis. You may also introduce new types of bacteria from your hands into the zit. This can cause more redness, inflammation, swelling, infection, and may even lead to permanent scarring. It’s best to let a pimple run its course. Left alone, a pimple will heal itself in about 3 to 7 days. Popped improperly, it can last for weeks and result in scarring.

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What is a pimple?

A pimple is a tiny pustule or papule. They develop when sebaceous glands, or oil glands, become clogged and infected, causing swollen, red wounds filled with pus. Also known as spots or zits, blemishes are a part of acne. They are most likely to occur during puberty, but they can appear at any age. During puberty, there are hormonal production changes. This can make the sebaceous glands to become overactive. As a result, pimples are likely to occur during adolescence and menstruation, for women. Pimples most often appear on the face, back, chest, and shoulders. This is because of the numerous sebaceous glands in these areas.

Pimple facts

Here are some key details about pimples.

  • They range in severity, from whiteheads, blackheads to cysts.
  • They occur when the sebaceous glands become more active, dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria clog the pores, and sometimes an infection grows.
  • Pimples often happen in adolescence, but they can affect persons of all ages.
  • There is not enough proof to confirm that any particular food causes acne, but keeping a healthful diet can reduce the risk.

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Types of pimples

There are several varying kinds of pimples, and they each have different signs and symptoms:

  • Whiteheads: Also referred to a closed comedo, these are small pimples that remain under the skin. They appear as a small, flesh-colored, white tipped papule.
  • Blackheads: Also referred to as an open comedo, these are visible on the surface of the skin, often black or dark brown in color, due to the oxidation of melanin, the skin’s pigment. Some mistakenly believe they are caused by dirt, because of their color, and scrub their faces vigorously in turn to remove them. Scrubbing doesn’t help; it irritates the skin and causes other problems like swelling.
  • Papules: These are little, solid, rounded bumps that grow from the skin. They are often pink in color.
  • Pustules: These are pimples filled with pus, and they are on the surface of the skin.
  • Nodules: These have the structure to papules, but they are bigger. They can be painful and are rooted deep in the skin.
  • Cysts: They can be seen on the surface of the skin. They are filled with pus and are normally painful to the touch. Cysts commonly cause scarring.

What is the lifespan of a pimple?

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Pores are ducts in the skin that house a single strand of hair. They are attached to the sebaceous glands which produce the oil that keeps the skin moist. When all is working well, oxygen can flow freely through the pore but when it gets blocked a pimple is born.

The birth

  • The sebaceous glands increase oil production.
  • The oil clumps are together preventing it from flowing easily through the pore.
  • Dead skin cells start building up and mix with the oil creating a clump, blocking the flow of oxygen into the pore.

The growth

  • Devoid of oxygen, bacteria starts growing and infects the pore.
  • The skin can rapture creating a painful red bump called a papule.
  • In response to the bacterial infection, your body sends white blood cells to fight it.

The death

  • The white blood cells die and accumulate in the pore together with the other debris and fluids forming a pus-filled whitehead called a pustule.
  • With time the infection can self heal leaving a scab behind. The dead cells in the scab then dissolve forming a scar.
  • Over time healthy cells replace the scar tissue and your akin returns to its normal state.

What can you do about a pimple other than popping?

While there isn’t a way to magically make your pimples go away, there are a few tricks that can lessen your breakout and even stop it dead in its track. Here are five tricks for diminishing your pesky pimples.

Warm and Cold Compresses

Warm compress

So you’re washing your face in the morning, and you notice a tender spot deep under your skin. You realize it’s a pimple. Your pore may be blocked with oil and dirt, but chances are this is a hormonal or cystic pimple that is inflamed for no good reason. For these swollen zits, use a hot compress to bring down the inflammation. The heat will break down the blockage inside the pore and improve circulation in the area. Essentially, the warmth gets the fluids flowing instead of hardening inside your pore. Do this about three times a day for 10 minutes with a warm damp cloth or green tea bag. Beware not to burn your skin, but make sure it’s warm enough to be useful, the water should be a little cooler than a normal cup of hot tea. The hot compress will also open up your pore to allow any topical treatment to be absorbed more thoroughly. 

Cold compress

Alright, so you’ve been eyeing your growing pimple for a couple of days now, and despite the cardinal “no pick” rule, you’ve decided to pop it anyway. Unfortunately, you miscalculated how ready the pimple was, and the premature removal has left your skin even more swollen, red, and possibly even ripped. When this happens, before you do anything, immediately ice the area. Get an ice cube, a plastic bag, and a tissue for as a barrier and place the cube directly to where you were squeezing. Assume you were just punched in the face and you need to apply ice right away to prevent swelling. The ice will constrict the blood vessels beneath your skin so that blood doesn’t rush to the affected spot and make your bump look worse than it is. Keep a cycle of 10 minutes on-10 minutes off for an hour. Make sure you don’t give yourself ice burn.

Apply some crushed Aspirin 

Did you know aspirin can relieve pimple pain? Made up of acetylsalicylic acid, aspirin can be used topically on your painful pimples to reduce the swelling and redness.  Here’s what to do: Crush two to three dry aspirin tablets (the gel ones won’t work here), and add a few drops of water. You’ll want a thick and gritty paste, so if it’s too watery, mix it again. Once you get a good mixture, apply a good amount to your pimple and leave it on for about fifteen to twenty minutes.

Use drying Lotion

Zinc oxide is the magic ingredient in drying lotions that dries out the infected area without stripping your skin of beneficial oils or causing chemical burns. Drying lotions made for pimples contain: salicylic acid to help unclog the pore, sulfur to help dry the region, and zinc oxide to help draw out impurities. The combination of these non-abrasive ingredients produce effective results making drying lotion a bathroom cabinet must-have. After cleansing your skin, use a cotton swab dipped in the lotion on your pimple and leave it on overnight.The best opportunity to use drying lotions is when you feel the very first hints of a pimple when it’s still a growing bump underneath your skin. Lotion reduces inflammation and removes impurities. Spot treatment is ideal when you start seeing the head of the pimple because the salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide will tackle the infection.

Spot treatments

When your pimple starts making it’s way to the surface, you want to bring out the big guns, namely, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. The salicylic acid will help unclog the pore while the benzoyl peroxide will combat the bacteria. Dab this treatment on your pimple before proceeding to bed and leave it on overnight. For a more organic route, try applying a spot treatment that has essential oils like tea tree oil as it is a natural antiseptic that fights bacteria. 

Regular use of retinol

If you are continually battling pimples, the best way to deter future breakouts is to start using retinoids regularly. The high concentration of vitamin A improves the skin cell turnover rate of your skin, limiting clogged pores. Speak to your dermatologist about starting retinoids and whether to use the prescription or over the counter method. Prescription strength retinoids will take some time to get used to. Many people report heightened sensitivity, dryness and discomfort as the vitamin A draws impurities to the surface by stimulating skin shedding. But after a few months, breakouts should decrease, and before you know it, it will be months since you dealt with a pimple. Over-the-counter retinols are not as concentrated as prescription ones, but your dermatologist can help decide what’s right for you. If they suggest going with an over-the-counter solution, be sure to check the difference between retinoids and retinol before purchasing.

The make-up option

Instead of popping a zit, you could hide it with makeup. Choose to make up that is noncomedogenic. That means it won’t block pores. You won’t need a lot. Less is more when it comes to hiding a blemish. When you’re attempting to hide a pimple, you aim to take away the redness, not flatten it out. If you keep piling on layers of makeup, you’ll be creating a little mountain. It may not be a red mountain, but it will still be bigger and more noticeable than when you started. Use a concealer that matches their skin tone or foundation in a dry, not creamy, formula. These generally come in pots or sticks. If you find yourself facing the “to pop or not to pop” dilemma every day or week, talk to your doctor or a dermatologist about ways to manage your breakouts.

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