We’ve all done it. That pimple is just asking for a squeeze! And hey, it’s not always a bad idea – squeezing a pimple the right way (and at the right time) can speed it along.
Plus, I prefer the squeezed “look” on my skin over an annoying white head. Don’t tell anyone…
But that squeeze is sometimes followed by regret as the thing swells, doesn’t stop bleeding, or takes forever to heal (with a scar when it does!)
However, there are steps you can take after popping a pimple that will help to heal your skin faster and lessen the chance of reoccurrence or scarring.
The steps below include what to do immediately, and important tips to follow as the spot heals. (If you want to know how to pop a pimple so the aftermath is minimal, see this article).
What to Do After Popping a Pimple: How to Reduce Swelling and Redness
A vigorous squeeze can lead to swelling, scarring and possible spread of acne.
First, the area swells and reddens. Swelling occurs when the tissues become inflamed. When cells experience damage, your body increases the white blood cell supply to the affected area to start the healing process. The cells require fluids to travel for healing, which is why swelling occurs.
Here are the steps to follow right after you have popped a pimple:
Step 1: Remove the Gunk
When you have popped a pimple, make sure you have done it right – this means all the way.
The chances of the pimple reappearing are high if there is even a slightest amount of gunk left in the pore. If the popped pimple feels tender when you press it gently, there is likely still some gunk left.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t squeeze the pimple too hard, but do squeeze enough to get that last bit out. Usually you know it’s “all clear” if blood starts to appear. Definitely stop at this point, or risk a bruise forming.
The next step is very important:
Step 2: Apply Ice
Once you have cleared the popped pimple, apply ice to the area. Make sure you wrap the ice in a clean cloth or paper towel before applying. If your skin is sensitive, you can double wrap the cube before gently applying it on the affected area.
Step 3: Apply Gentle Pressure
Next, gently put a bit of pressure on the popped pimple for around 30 seconds with your finger covered in a tissue. This gentle pressure will help drain the remaining fluid from the swollen tissues and clear the pore.
Remember – this is gentle pressure not another squeeze. Think of it like the pressure you apply to your shin after you knock it, as a way to reduce pain and swelling.
Step 4: Give Your Skin Rest
Once you have applied the ice and pressure – do not squeeze any more! Even if clear liquid starts to come out of the hole, do not be tempted to squeeze. Simply dab the spot or leave it.
You can continue the ice application about an hour later if the swelling and redness has not decreased enough, or it it is still painful.
Step 5: Optional – Take Medication
This step is not necessary unless you are experiencing discomfort and pain due to the swelling. Take anti-inflammatory medication like aspirin or ibuprofen. Make sure you follow the directions on the packet.
Step 6: Apply Antibiotic Cream
After applying ice, wait for an hour and then dab on an antibiotic ointment or cream to prevent infection or the spread of pimples in the surrounding area.
A simple antibiotic cream from the pharmacy or your first aid kit is all you need.
Step 7: Keep it Clean
After popping a pimple the skin is left open, which means it is easier for bacteria to enter and spread. So it is crucial that you keep the area constantly clean.
For the next day or two, cleanse the area gently and dab dry with a tissue. Follow with the bacteria cream as above if you want to.
Care Tips to Prevent a Popped Pimple from Scarring and Returning
Your job isn’t done after popping the pimple and keeping it clean for a day. It is important to take good care of the affected area to avoid scarring and ensuring the pimple doesn’t return. Here are some tips you can follow:
Use a Toner
Apply a toner or witch hazel to the affected area to keep it calm and soothed. This will also reduce any possible redness around the popped pimple. This is also an easy way to keep the pore clean.
Apply a Quick Black Tea Bag “Mask”
Steep a black tea bag in hot water it for a minute. Squeeze out the water and place it on the popped pimple. Ensure that the tea bad isn’t too hot.
Leave on Aloe Vera
Spread allow vera gel gently on the popped pimple. Aloe vera is loaded with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness and inflammation while speeding up the healing process.
Keep your gel in the fridge for added cooling benefits.
Use Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil fights bacteria and decreases the swelling and irritation on the skin. Simply mix two drops of oil with two drops of water and use a cotton bud to dab it on the affected area. Leave it on for twenty minutes and gently wipe off.
See more ways to use tea tree oil for acne here.
Avoid Makeup (but not really…)
Avoid applying any concealer or foundation on the popped pimple. This increases the risk of bacteria entering the open skin. But, admittedly this is a tough tip to follow…
Be sure to cleanse gently at the end of the day (this is where toner can help) and reapply antibiotic cream.
Use a Warm Compress
Once the pimple starts healing, you can apply a warm compress and leave it on for 15 minutes.
This helps bring the blood supply to the tissues to promote healing.
Lastly: Crush Aspirin to Help Relieve Pain
Aspirin can help with pain-relief and swelling. It also dries up the pimple to speed up the healing process. (See this article for more info on dealing with painful pimples).
Crush aspirin into a powder and create a paste with water. Use a cotton bud to apply to skin and leave it on for a few hours before washing.
As tempting as it is to just give the pimple another squeeze… try not to as it can spread bacteria and cause more pimples. Picking, squeezing or popping the blemish again is usually what increases the chances of scarring, discoloration, or infection.
This is a really important tip to ensure the spot heals with minimal scarring!