Should you pop your pimples? | Top pimple popping tips from a skincare expert


Unfortunately, we are all occasionally greeted by some unwanted guests on our faces and in the hopes of getting rid of them quickly, we seem to share the urge of popping. For some, pimple picking and popping is not only an impulse but also an obsession, with many even classing themselves as “popaholics”. The internet is brimming with viral videos of individuals extracting the gooey fluids from their pimples, with the likes of Dr. Pimple Popper (Dr. Sandra Lee) having a humungous following of over 2 million, and even having her own TV shows dedicated to the craze.


Popping pimples is often the go-to method for trying to get rid of pimples, but does it in fact cause more harm than good? It may seem like a quick-fix but the possible short-term benefits can often come with long-term damage. Within this article we will discuss what causes pimples in the first place and what happens when you pop them. We spoke to skincare expert, celebrity facialist and founder of Mortar and Milk, Pamela Marshall to get her professional wisdom and advice on this.


What causes pimples?

A pimple tends to form when a pore becomes clogged with excess sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria. There are several factors that can trigger this occurrence such as hormones, naturally produced oils, skin conditions, allergies, and bacteria from external sources such as air pollutants. When a pore is blocked, the area of the skin becomes inflamed and is often filled with a pus-like substance (which is what can make the popping process so satisfying!) 

Should you pop your pimples?

As tempting as it may be, dermatologists recommend avoiding the urge to pop your spots, as it can cause scarring and increase the risk of infection. Pamela Marshall says “ideally, you shouldn’t pop your own spots. But I completely recognise the little spot popping fairy in your head that says “do it”. So I often teach clients the proper “Pam way” - which starts with Clinisoothe+ and ends with Clinisoothe+! I always have clients soak the spot in Clinisoothe+ pre and post picking.”


What happens when you pop your pimples?

When it comes to spot popping, there can be both immediate and long-term effects. When a spot is squeezed, the bacteria and pus is often pushed even deeper into the skin, which may cause more swelling and redness. You may also introduce more bacteria from your hands into the effected area. Pamela adds that squeezing your spots may also cause more permanent visible damage. “You not only increase your risk of infection and scarring, but it may also potentially cause cluster breakouts.”


The dangers of pimple popping

Some of the potential dangers of squeezing a pimple can include:

  • Acne scarring: The pressure from popping your spot can cause permanent damage to the skin tissue underneath which can lead to scars developing.
  • Hyperpigmentation: This is when a dark patch develops in place of a healed blemish. For those with lighter skin, red patches may develop instead. Hyperpigmentation can sometimes take months or years to fade.
  • Infection: When you pop a spot, you are opening up the affected area, making it more vulnerable to bacteria. This can lead to infection which is often painful and irritating. An infection may even require antibiotics.
  • Worsened blemish: A popped pimple can often come back with a vengeance! It may re-appear angrier, redder, and more noticeable than before, and it may bring some friends along too - referred to as a ‘cluster breakout’.

Alternatives to pimple popping

The key to treating a pimple is to be patient! It’s also essential to take care of your skin daily. Here are some approaches you can take:

  • Refrain from touching your pimple and always wash your hands before touching your face.

  • Apply a clean cloth-covered ice pack over the affected area to help reduce redness and inflammation.

  • Apply a warm compress to soothe the spot and help it to heal - the warmth from the compress helps to draw out the trapped oil and bacteria.

  • Be consistent with your skin care routine. Washing your face twice daily can help to keep pimple at bay and prevent them from worsening. Check out our article on double cleansing here.


Pamela Marshall’s top tips for treating spots


“Always cleanse with a milky cleanse and remove with a flannel. Always wash your face after shampooing, conditioning, and brushing your teeth. Always cleanse all the way down your neck and chest, not just the face. And always always use Clinisoothe+. Try to also stay away from using too many AHA’s. They compromise your skin barrier function and can lead to more acne.”

As Pamela mentioned, Clinisoothe+ is a great product for pimples - when it comes to prevention as well as treating them. 

Clinisoothe+ is a skin purifier which helps to protect your skin from external pollutants and impurities, preventing breakouts and promoting rapid recovery. The high purity hypochlorous formula delivers a unique oxidising method of action which provides purifying cleansing protection, but is also gentle on the skin: it doesn’t harm, irritate or sensitise the dermal layer. Clinisoothe+ is ideal for acne prone skin and can be applied anywhere on the face or body where any irritation, breakouts or redness occur. Spritz or apply using a cotton pad twice daily after cleansing.

Try Clinisoothe+ Skin Purifier, a gentle product to add to your skincare routine. Simply spritz your skin after cleansing and allow the product to soothe redness or irritation. 

Clinisoothe+ Skin Purifier  $19.95/100ml

Pamela Marshall, expert aesthetician and co-founder of Mortar and Milk, London's newest beauty retailer, both brick and mortar and online. She gives bespoke skin services, combining high street brands with cosmeceuticals, providing in depth analysis and treatments (through use of camera technology). 

(Source: Healthline)