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  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

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Skincare don’t: popping pimples

Why not to pop, and how to get rid of pimples instead

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 5 min read
Woman with sticky note on face saying "Don't Pop" pointing at pimple
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 5 min read
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

When it comes to pimple-popping, there are two kinds of people: those who think it’s cathartic or otherwise enjoyable — the kind of people who enjoy watching those Dr. Pimple Popper videos (Google at your own risk) — and those who are grossed out by it. Whether or not the idea of popping pimples appeals to you, let us remind you: it’s a big no-no.

Fortunately, if you’ve got a zit that just won’t quit, or you want to get rid of a pimple pronto for any reason, there is a better (safer) way to help speed up the works without popping — and you can get it at your local drugstore, or add our own version to your Curology subscription box. Read on for our pro non-popping, pimple-stopping tips.

Reason #1 not to pop: it can make more pimples!

Zits are like oil wells: there’s a lot unseen below the surface, and if they leak, the yucky stuff inside can contaminate the area around it! When you pop a pimple, the gunk inside can spread into your skin underneath the surface, potentially causing more breakouts and irritation. Plus, you run the risk of driving that bacteria-ridden gunk even deeper into your skin, causing more swelling and inflammation, not to mention dark spots or permanent scarring.

Reason #2 not to pop: the triangle of death

Sounds like something out of sci-fi, but it’s actually a word of warning for your face. The “triangle of death” is the area of the mid-face, from the corners of the mouth to the bridge of the nose. Why the dramatic name? The veins in this part of the face connect both inside and outside of the skull. It’s SUPER rare, but possible for an infection in this area (as in, from a popped pimple gone wrong) to cause some serious problems — so, it’s better not to risk it.

Reason #3 not to pop: acne scars don’t go away

There are many different kinds of acne scars, and they’re really hard — if not impossible — to get rid of once they’re there. Depending on the type of scar, certain in-office cosmetic or dermatological procedures can reduce the appearance of acne scarring. But these procedures and treatments can be really expensive, the results take time, and you’re never guaranteed to get rid of the scars altogether. The best way to deal with acne scars is not to get them in the first place, so don’t pop or pick! Proper treatment of acne can help avoid scarring, or reduce its severity in some cases when scarring is inevitable (such as with severe cystic acne).

Post-acne hyperpigmentation, the brown spots left behind after a pimple heals up, is different than acne scars. The active ingredients in your custom Curology cream can help fade those spots! Let your Curology provider know if you’ve got post-acne spots to deal with so you can get the right formula for your (sk)individual needs.

Woman with blue paper on forehead upside down

How to get rid of pimples the right way

1. Put a hydrocolloid bandage on it

The fast, easy way to help get the pus (that gross white gunk) out of a pimple without popping is to use a hydrocolloid bandage, like the emergency spot patch by Curology. Just slap on one of these bad boys to put your acne in incognito mode. They also help to absorb pus and oil, helping to speed healing. Our spot patches are ultra-thin to help you go undercover, whether you layer them under makeup or wear them alone. We’re big fans of the hydrocolloid bandages made by a few other brands, too.

Spot Patch

2. Cleanse with caution

Resist the urge to scrub pimples away — it doesn’t work like that. Aggressive exfoliation might make matters worse, in fact. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser, like the Curology cleanser, to keep the affected area clean without irritating it further.

3. Use a cold compress

Another way to help shrink a pimple down to size: use a cold compress. Got a green tea bag? Brew yourself a cup, then take the used teabag and chill it in the freezer until it’s nice and cool (but not frozen). The combo of the cold and the anti-inflammatory benefits of green tea will help cool that hot-headed whitehead down. You can also put a spoon in the freezer for about 15 minutes, then hold the back of the spoon on the pimple. Just be careful not to freeze your face to the point of numbness. Frostbite won’t do your skin any favors.

For more tips on treating big zits, check out our Big Zit Guide.

Pick the pimple-prevention pros

To help prevent pimples from popping in uninvited in the first place, get your Curology on. We offer customized formulas of active ingredients prescribed by our dermatology providers, delivered right to your door. We treat not just acne but a variety of skin issues, from fine lines and age spots to redness and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (those brown spots pimples like to leave behind).

When you sign up for a free trial of Curology, you can try it all for free: your custom formula, emergency spot patches, and more dermatologist-designed products. You’ll just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover the cost of shipping + handling.

Custom superbottle for breakouts | Free Trial button

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Curology Team

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