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 admittedly prefer the squeezed “look” on my skin over the annoying white head…
But that squeeze is sometimes followed by regret as the thing swells, doesn’t stop bleeding or leaking, or takes ages 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, make sure that spot stays away, and lessen scarring. The steps include what to do straight away, 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
What to do after popping a pimple? 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 the cells have experienced some damage, the defense mechanism of your body enhances the white blood cells supply to the affected area in order 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. Remove the white gunk from the pimple as much as you possibly can. The chances of the pimple reappearing are high if there is even a slightest amount of gunk left in the pores. If the popped pimple feels tender when you press it gently, it means there is still some gunk left. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t squeeze the pimple too hard.
Step 2: Apply Ice
Once you have cleared the popped pimple properly, apply ice on the area. Make sure you wrap up the ice in a soft clean cloth or paper towel before applying. If your skin is sensitive, then you can double wrap the cube before gently applying it on the affected area.
Step 3: Put Gentle Pressure
Next, gently put a bit of pressure on the popped pimple for around 30 seconds or so. This gentle pressure will help in draining out the remaining fluid from the swollen tissues and clear the pores.
Step 4: Give Your Skin Rest
Avoid keeping ice on your skin for prolonged period of time. Apply it four to five times for 30 seconds and then give your skin rest for five to six minutes before applying the ice again.
Keep in mind that the aim of applying ice is to keep the skin cool not freeze it as that can cause increased redness.
Step 5: Repeat the Process
Keep repeating the process for a few times. You will notice the redness and swelling decreasing. (This makes a huge difference!)
Step 6: Optional – Take Medication
This step is not necessary unless you are experiencing discomfort and pain due to the swelling. You can take anti-inflammatory medication like aspirin, acetaminophen, or naproxen sodium. Make sure you follow the directions on the packet before taking the medication.
Step 7: Apply Antibiotic
After applying ice, wait for an hour and then dab on an antibiotic ointment or cream to prevent infection on the popped pimple or the spread of pimples in the surrounding area.
Step 8: Keep it Clean
After you pop a pimple, the skin is left open, which means it is easy for bacteria to enter and spread. Therefore, it is crucial that you keep the area constantly clean to eliminate any potential bacteria. Moreover, if possible, you should keep the area elevated to further reduce the swelling.
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 care tips you can follow:
Use a Toner
Utilize a toner or witch hazel to the affected area to keep it calm and soothing. This will also reduce any possible redness around the popped pimple.
Use a Quick Black Tea Bag “Mask”
Take warm water and place a black tea bag in it for a minute. Squeeze out the water and place it on the popped pimple. Ensure that the tea bad isn’t too hot. The tannins in the black tea bag work as astringent, which reduces the irritation on the skin.
Leave on Aloe Vera
Scoop out the gel from aloe vera and spread it gently on the popped pimple. Aloe vera is loaded with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the redness and inflammation of the affected area while escalating the healing process.
Use Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil fights bacteria and decreases the swelling and irritation on the skin. Simply mix two drops of this oil with two drops of water and use a cotton bud to dab it on the affected area. Leave it on for ten minutes and wipe it off.
Avoid Makeup (not really…)
Avoid applying any concealer or foundation on the popped pimple. This increases the risk of bacteria entering the open skin. Admittedly this is a tough tip to follow. So let’s be realistic – before using makeup to cover the red spot, apply some antibiotic cream and let it sit for a few minutes. Then apply concealer with a clean Q-Tip, and blot some powder on top using a tissue.
Be sure to cleanse gently at the end of the day and reapply antibiotic cream.
Use a Warm Compress
Once the popped pimple starts healing up, you can apply a warm compress and leave it on for 15 minutes. You can use a washcloth soaked in hot water for this.
Crush Aspirin to Help Relieve Pain
Aspirin includes cyclical acid that provides pain-relief and decrease swelling. It also dries up the pimple, which enhances the healing process. Crush the aspirin in a powder and create a paste by adding few drops of water. Use a cotton bud to apply it on the swollen skin and leave it on for a few hours before washing.
As tempting as it is to just give a pimple another squeeze… try not to as it can spread bacteria and cause more pimples. Picking at, squeezing or popping the blemish again is usually what increases the chances of scarring, discoloration, or infection.
Important: Keep the Area “Moist”
Once the pimple starts healing and is fully dry (after a day or two), apply Vaseline to help the healing process. You can also apply this underneath makeup as you cover up the blemish. This is a really important tip that ensures the spot heals with less scarring.