Acne Scars, Skincare

How to Stop Popping Pimples

I’m not sure if this is something that everyone with acne does, or if it’s just something that some of us obsess over, but I have always been a pimple popper. After having acne for more than a decade, it’s only recently that I’ve learned how to stop popping pimples.

I still want to pop them when I see them, but I’ve found a few ways to handle the urge to do so.

First thing’s first though…

Should You Pop Blackheads?

I’ve heard for years that popping pimples is bad. People have always told me that it actually gets more bacteria into your skin, which can cause additional acne to form.

But that never made sense to me. After all, when I pop a blackhead, I can see the bacteria come out of it. So there’s no way more dirt is getting in there, right?

Plus, even if it was true that pimple popping did more harm than good, I couldn’t really help it. I hated seeing those huge white bumps on my face, and it felt somehow therapeutic to get the gunk out of them.

However, I eventually had to commit to not picking at my face. Not only was it wreaking havoc on my skin and causing tons of scarring, but it did seem to make me break out more, and I wanted that to stop above all else.

Also, as it turn out, all those times I heard that popping acne causes more bacteria to get into your skin, those people were right. It just doesn’t happen the way I thought it did.

Yes, you do run the risk of getting bacteria from your hands into the pimple. But, as turns out, popping pimples can spread the bacteria underneath your skin, too.

Yes, some of the bacteria may be pushed out of your skin and out of your body, which is what you see (and what those of us addicted to pimple popping enjoy). However, there’s a good chance that popping the pimple is simultaneously causing the pimple to push bacteria the opposite way, deeper into your skin.

It’s no surprise then that, every time I would pop a pimple, it seemed like I’d get a few more pimples in that same area within the following week.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t pop any kind of pimple. Not blackheads, whiteheads, cystic acne, or any other kind of acne. Not only can it spread bacteria into your skin in multiple ways, but it can lead to scarring and can put you at risk of getting an infection.

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Of course, not popping pimples is easier said than done. So, here are some of the ways that I learned how to stop popping pimples.

1. Think About the Bacteria Going Into Your Skin

Honestly, ever since I learned that this can happen and that all that gross shit isn’t coming out of my skin, I’ve had a much less intense urge to pop new pimples.

Half of the reason I liked pimple popping so much was because it felt like I was doing something good. Especially when nothing else was working for me, pimple popping was always something I could control. I might not be able to stop my acne from forming, but I’d be damned if I’d let that ugly whitehead chill out on my face for another day.

Now, I feel more in control by not picking at my acne. I know that popping it would only make my pores dirtier and, since I don’t feel good about that, I don’t really have positive feelings to associate with pimple popping.

2. Watch Videos of Other People Popping Pimples

Hey, if you can’t pop your own pimples, there’s no harm in watching someone else pop theirs, right?

Dr. Pimple Popper is one of the most famous YouTube channels to watch for this. But, be warned, the channel also features patients having cysts popped, some of which are downright disgusting, even if you have a strong stomach (which I do).

If I’m feeling especially antsy about a pimple on my face, I’ll usually just go down a YouTube rabbit hole of people popping pimples, and that tends to do the trick.

3. Watch Videos About Overcoming Acne

Brian Turner has overcome one of the most severe cases of cystic acne I’ve ever seen. He underwent several rounds of Accutane treatment and adopted a vegan diet before he was able to get it under control, and he’s extremely open about sharing his experiences with his YouTube followers.

Most helpful about his channel is how exceptionally positive he is. He’s pretty much the nicest, most optimistic guy ever. And you really can’t watch his channel and see what he’s been through and hear his determination to not let acne run his life without feeling like you can find a way to cope with your acne too.

On those days when I feel like I’m the only person I know with serious acne, it’s nice to watch Brian’s channel and remember I’m not alone.

Oh, and Brian is a big advocate of not popping pimples, too, so his reminders not to pick at your face are always helpful.

4. Put Something Over the Pimple

If all of these mental tactics don’t help, you can physically stop yourself from popping a pimple by literally putting a barrier between your fingers and your face.

A few things you can use might be:

  • A sheet mask. As a bonus, the rest of your skin will get a nice treatment, too.
  • A pimple patch. These Korean acne products don’t have any kind of acne medicine on them, which makes them great for people with sensitive skin. They’re essentially just small hydrocolloid pads that draw the water and moisture out of your skin, which can help to extract the bacteria without you actually popping the pimple.
  • A spot treatment. There are tons of different kinds of acne spot treatments available at local drugstores. Some rely on salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to do the job, while others might use glycolic acid or tea tree oil. Spot treatments have never worked well for me, so I don’t have one to recommend here, but if you’re trying to not pop a pimple, putting something like this over top of it could be a good way to deter yourself.

How Do You Stop Popping Pimples?

Ultimately, the only way to really stop popping pimples is to not want to pop them. As someone who used to compulsively pick at her face, I swear if I can do it, you can do it.

What makes it hard for you to not pick at your skin? Or, if you’ve found a way to avoid this, how did you stop? Tell me in the comments section below!

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