Will Popping a Pimple Spread Acne?
We all know the feeling—there’s a pimple or blackhead right under the surface of your skin that you just know will come out if you only give it a little squeeze. Most of us understand that popping a pimple is bad. But how bad? Can squeezing a zit actually multiply your acne?
Regardless of what type of blemishes you experience, most acne forms in the same way. Pores—small openings in your skin—become clogged with excess sebum and dead skin cells, often trapping bacteria in the process. It’s this trapped bacteria that ultimately inflames the skin and creates a squeeze-worthy blemish. When you pop a pimple, you create a small tear in the skin through which the trapped debris, oil, and bacteria can escape. Sounds pretty straightforward—at first.
The Dirty Truth
Unfortunately, when you give in to temptation and pop a pimple, it is possible to spread bacteria and debris from one pore to another, planting pimples where there weren’t any before. What’s more concerning, however, is that you’re touching your face. Our hands are notorious collection sites for microscopic dirt and debris. Unless you’ve diligently sanitized your hands, it’s likely that you’re inadvertently spreading unwanted bacteria and oils to other pores when you squeeze. Put another way, even if popping a pimple did get rid of it for good, you’re probably just creating more in the process.
As anyone who has ever gone in for the squeeze can tell you, popping a pimple doesn’t get rid of it for good, nor will it shorten your zit’s lifespan. In fact, the outcome can be quite the opposite. Remember that tiny tear we talked about? Pimple popping essentially creates a wound that is susceptible to reinfection (read: a bigger and more painful blemish) as well as swelling, redness, and in some cases, scaring – all of the things you don’t want happening on your face. Even if you don’t spread acne-causing bacteria and debris from one area to another, your well-intentioned picking will result in skin that is more irritated and swollen than before. In other words, even if your acne isn’t multiplying, it might look like it did.
Instead of thinking of a pimple as a bump to be flattened immediately, try to think of it as a place where your body is trying to heal itself and care for the spot like you would any other injury: with patience and a gentle touch. As this writer found, simply refraining from touching your face can accelerate the acne healing process more than you might expect.
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