My clients are always asking if it’s okay to pop their own zits. My answer? A resounding no. In fact, I ask my clinic clients to sign a stop picking pledge so they don’t inadvertently push the plugs back down into the pore, cause new pigmentation, or introduce new bacteria that would delay their progress. And I can always tell if they’ve been cheating!
Most of my clients now live all over the country, and I give them permission to pope their own pimples, as long as it’s done correctly. (Let’s face it: We both know that it’s just about impossible to leave a big, giant whitehead alone that is clearly ready to go.)
So, here are my step-by-step instructions on how to pop your own zits. (Watch video)
But first, a friendly disclaimer: Don’t attempt to pop a red, inflamed pimple if it doesn’t have a very large yellow center with an obvious opening. I promise you, no matter how hard you push it will not come out, and you will only make it worse by pushing on it. Think to yourself, “Am I going to have ‘popper’s remorse’ if I mess with this?”
Steps to Performing Smart Bathroom Surgery:
- Your zit is ready when it has a white or yellow center that is nearly bursting on its own.
- Popping zits right after a shower is a great idea–it’s warm, clean, and has been steamed almost as well as it is in the clinic.
- Your hands must be clean, so wash them thoroughly–especially under the nails–to get rid of any bacteria that could contaminate the pimple. In the clinic, I wear gloves to protect myself and my client. If you have sterile gloves or a gauze square from your first aid kit, that would be ideal. You may also wrap the tips of your fingers in tissue.
- Use a sterile needle to puncture the whitehead – here’s a tip: Purchase a box of fine point sterile lancets at the drugstore if you plan on doing a lot of bathroom surgery (you can find them in the diabetes aisle, or ask the pharmacist). Take your lancet and gently pierce the center of the zit.
- Now you can carefully squeeze each side of the zit to release the gunk by pressing around it in a gentle “in and up” motion. The idea is to coax the plug out of the follicle all the way up to the opening in the skin. Give equal amounts of pressure on every side, but not too much! Continue until clear liquid or blood comes out. After the clear liquid is visible, keep going with the gentle “in and up” motion–you are trying to get the little “seed” out.
- If, after a few times, you haven’t been able to get the seed out–STOP! You cannot squeeze a pimple flat! That little lump you feel is residual swelling and will go down if you ice it later (see below).
- Use a clean tissue or gauze to dab away the liquid. Avoid spreading it beyond the open zit.
- If there is swelling, apply ice to the zit for two minutes. This is the cheapest, most underrated home acne treatment there is. An iced pimple will heal in a day or two.
- When your squeezing party is finished, clean it up with Exfoliating Toner then dab a little Overnight Treatment on the open pore using a Q-tip. These are the only two products that can travel down to the bottom of the pore and kill any residual bacteria.
- Remember to wash your fingers between squeezing each zit in order to stop the spread of bacteria. Bacteria will implant itself under your nails and carry those germs to the next pimple or blackhead. If you squeeze a zit that is not ready because it is still below the surface (a clue is it does not have a head), it will flare up even worse–so walk away! Otherwise you will push that bacteria farther down into the follicle, causing more infection and an even worse breakout in a few days or weeks.
What to Do for a Stubborn Pimple Instead of Squeezing:
- Ice it for two minutes morning and night, apply extra Exfoliating Serum in the morning, and spot treat with extra Clearing Gel at night to help it heal instead of bathroom surgery. Or, if you think it’s almost ready, use a warm compress to help the pimple come up to the surface.
- Try not to stare at your zits in a magnifying mirror–this will only stress you out and make you feel bad.
- If you are feeling anxious about wanting to squeeze, cover it with an acne-safe powder or tinted concealer so you can’t see the redness. Now, walk away from that mirror. (Your skin will thank you for it!)
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