Everyone knows the cardinal rule of popping pimples: Don’t do it. Ever. No matter how big, whatever you do, never pop.
Okay, time for real talk. We know no one listens to that. We all break the rules and pop a pimple from time to time. So if you’re going to do it, at least be safe.
First rule: Only pop visible whiteheads. Wait a day or two after you feel a whitehead coming on, until the infection appears on the surface. Squeezing before that will just damage the skin, since the poppable part is still hidden under healthy skin cells.
Once the whitehead is quite visible, that’s your green light. Clean the area with rubbing alcohol to get rid of any bacteria that could make its way inside the freshly popped zit. Gently squeeze the infection with your fingers at a 90-degree angle. For extra cleanliness, squeeze with a tissue, too, so your fingers are not in direct contact with the pimple.
But what if nothing comes out? If it doesn’t pop easily, stop immediately—that’s how you end up with redness and even worse, scarring.
When you’re done, clean the area again with rubbing alcohol and put a dab of antibiotic ointment on top to help it heal.
When it comes to cystic blemishes, which appear most often in the chin and jaw areas and don’t ever come to a head, never, ever try to pop. No matter how hard you pick or squeeze, they’re not going to come to the surface—you’ll just tear up your skin. See a dermatologist to have it treated effectively and safely.