How to Pop a Pimple Without Making it Worse

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How to pop a pimple

Leaving pimples “alone” is good advice for some spots (inflamed, deep, painful)…

But if you know how to pop a pimple and when, it can work. This page will show you exactly how to do it.

It may be a natural instinct to squeeze a pimple – but attempt to pop a pimple when it’s not ready and it will become angry and aggravated. 

And it will stick around a lot longer as it tries to heal! Ugh.

Popping a Pimple at the Wrong Time Can Cause Scars

Sometimes they can turn into a scab, and this is what causes scarring...

An over-zealous squeeze will break the skin and cause more inflammation.

BUT squeezing can work for surface-type pimples – the “whiteheads” that don’t have a lot of inflammation.

Any deep, painful inflamed pimples or cysts should never be squeezed. For these, try a different approach.

The Right Time To Pop A Pimple (When)

  • Not when it first shows up – this is when it’s still forming deep in the layers of the skin.
  • The inflammation is still high and squeezing it here will make it worse. Guaranteed.
  • If there’s still a lot of redness and it has a ‘shiny’ look as if it’s stretching the skin underneath, leave it alone (how to reduce the redness here)
  • After 12-24hrs it will start developing more of a whitehead. When the white head is more than the redness, it’s nearly time…
  • Time is right when the spot is no longer tender and red, and the whitehead looks like it’s “bulging” out of the skin

Sometimes you might get a pimple that doesn’t have a lot of inflammation, which is normally a blockage from the surface (eg. from not cleansing thoroughly).

These pimples are generally ok to be squeezed early.

The Right Technique (How To Pop A Pimple)

Preparation is key!

  • Use heat to draw the blockage to the surface of the skin and open the pore
  • Hold a cotton ball that has been soaked in hot water to the spot for a minute. Try to hold this right on the tip of the whitehead, avoiding the surrounding skin

Using a Needle:

In professional extractions a sterile needle is often used to carefully break the surface of skin, allowing pus to be removed easier and avoiding damage to the skin’s surface – which is what causes scarring.

The most important thing here is ensuring you only break the VERY TOP layer of skin. Sorry for shouting… but it is important to just scrape that top layer enough to release the goo. Any deeper and you’re effectively cutting your skin and this what causes more mess.

There should be no blood or pain whatsoever, in fact you really should feel nothing but a mild scratching…

  • ALWAYS use a thin and sterile needle – run it under boiling water or a lit match
  • With the (cooled down) needle lying almost flat across your skin, very gently make a tiny tear in the absolute top layer of the skin over the whitehead
  • If done right and the pimple is ready, pressure releases and the pus will start to ooze out by itself. It then just needs a little more encouragement…

See more: What To Do After Popping A Pimple

Popping a Pimple – Step by Step

  • Wrap a tissue around each index finger
  • Place each finger a little out from opposite sides of the zityou want to be applying pressure from the sides – NOT the top
  • Gently push down and then squeeze VERY GENTLY in a rolling-up motion
  • Gently squeeze (or push) for a second then move your fingers around and repeat – this prevents too much pressure being applied from one area and will ensure a thorough emptying…

The important thing to remember when popping a pimple is the DOWNWARDS pressure – you are trying to create pressure from the bottom so the ‘contents’ can be forced out the top.

This should happen easily. If it doesn’t – stop.

The pimple isn’t ready.

Squeeze gently until no more pus comes out.

Do not continue to squeeze as this will just produce blood, and you DEFINITELY want to stop there.

Squeezing beyond this point is what leads to bruises and possibly long term scarring.


Just as important as popping it with the right technique, is what to do after. This is the difference between a healed spot and a nasty scar:

  • Hold a cold cotton ball with some pressure on the area for a couple of minutes to stop any bleeding and swelling
  • You can apply a little toner to act as an astringent
  • Leave it alone! – you now have an open pore that will recover, but until it does it’s important to allow it to heal cleanly and quietly
  • A few hours later apply a dab of vaseline to keep the area moist which will add in healing and help prevent scarring

If the spot is dry over the next day or two, keep rubbing in a bit of Vaseline to aid healing.

This will also help concealer sit on it easier without flaking.

Now you know how to pop a pimple like a pro. Don’t be tempted into squeezing a pimple as soon as it shows up.

REMEMBER: it looks better to have a naturally occurring pimple on your face than a raging, angry, recently-squeezed zit!


2 thoughts on “How to Pop a Pimple Without Making it Worse”

  1. Thank you! I had no clue what to do with my one! It’s been bugging me for hours. I checked so many websites and most of them didn’t help at all I’m definitely checking on this site in the future ♥️

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