The Guide To Big Zits

Or, how NOT to pop that juicy pimple

4 minute read

The Guide To Big Zits

We’ll say it: popping a pimple is almost always a bad idea. Sure, it feels good — for a second. The aftermath is usually worse. The pimple turns into a red spot, which can turn into a scar. This guide will teach you how to calm your pimples without popping them — and if you do give in, how to treat popped pimples the proper way.

• • •

But Why?
Why Can’t I pop it?

Zits are like oil wells. They’re dirty, they get on everything, and there’s a lot unseen below the surface. When you pop a zit, the gunk inside can splash out and irritate your skin, leading to even more pimples nearby. Plus, you run the risk of driving debris and bacteria even deeper into your skin. The results? More swelling and inflammation, or even dark spots and permanent scarring.

How to calm a pimple, pop-free

Dermatologists have a trick for healing pimples quickly using a product you can buy for a few dollars at the store. Look for a small adhesive bandage called a hydrocolloid dressing, which can reduce a sore pimple overnight and usually takes care of the pimple in a couple of days! Sound like magic? It’s pretty simple: the bandage absorbs pus and oil from the inflamed spot. It also creates an acidic environment to prevent bacterial growth.

How to use a hydrocolloid bandage

  1. Cleanse the area with a mild cleanser (like The Cleanser by Curology!)
  2. Gently pat the area dry with a clean towel or a tissue
  3. Apply a hydrocolloid bandage over the pimple
  4. Leave it on overnight or for as long as possible. You can even shower wearing it!

Bandages we recommend

Tip: Hydrocolloid bandages aren’t always labeled that way. Look for blister bandages in your pharmacy, and make sure they have “hydrocolloid” mentioned on the box.

  • Target up&up Hydrocolloid Blister Bandages
  • Johnson & Johnson Tough Pads
  • Kmart Smart Sense Advanced Blister Healing Bandage
  • CVS, Walgreen, Band-Aid brands
  • NexCare Absorbing Covers

Name that pimple

Are you morbidly curious about the scientific term for that thing on your face? We’ve got you covered. Recent evidence shows that acne is an inflammatory process through and through—from tiny clogged pores to larger painful cysts. The process begins on a cellular level when excess oil, or sebum, mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria and clogs your pores.

Whiteheads and Blackheads

  • Whitehead: a small clogged pore (also called a closed comedone), where trapped oil and dead skin cells make a small white “bump.”
  • Blackhead: a small clogged pore (also called an open comedone), exposing the trapped oil and skin cells to the air. Oxidation of the trapped substances makes the pimple look black.
  • Papule: a tender bump with redness and swelling caused by inflammation; less than 5mm
  • Pustule: a “squeezable” inflamed lesion with a visible central core of pus; raised 1–5 mm
  • Nodule: a large firm reddish lump extending deeper than a papule; often painful
  • Cyst: a highly inflamed and/or draining acne nodule; resembles inflamed epidermal cysts

Last-resort popping

Okay, so you’ve gotten here and you know we don’t recommend popping pimples. But if you must do it, do it like a pro.

  1. Wait until your pimple is firm and looks ready to burst.
  2. Wash your hands well with soap and warm water.
  3. Use a sterile lancet. Alternatively, sterilize a fine sewing needle or a straight pin with a match or a lighter and allow it to cool.
  4. Wipe the zit and your fingers with rubbing alcohol.
  5. Hold the pin, or the needle, parallel to the surface of your skin and gently pierce the tip of the pimple’s white center.
  6. Using a cotton swab, softly press around the pimple. Be gentle — if the contents don’t come out easily, don’t force it.
  7. Apply a hydrocolloid bandage. If none is available, apply a dab of Vaseline (white petrolatum), Aquaphor or Vaniply.
  8. Reapply the ointment after swimming, showering or gentle cleansing. If using hydrocolloid bandages, no need to reapply. They usually last a few days.

Home remedy don’ts

Avoid home remedies such as toothpaste or baking soda, which can cause a lot of irritation. Also, some toothpastes contain pore-clogging ingredients that can make things worse.

Honey and lemon juice are often touted as natural remedies, but we can’t vouch for either. Although pure honey has antimicrobial properties, it’s not likely to help acne much, if at all. Non-medical grade honey may contain viable bacterial spores — not good for your skin. Lemon juice can cause significant dryness, redness and irritation. Save that lemon for cooking!

• • •

Don’t give in to desperation — you have options

We know big zits are a touchy topic (pun intended). Unsightly pimples can lead people to desperate solutions, including ones that backfire. But remember, you don’t have to be alone in dealing with them. It’s always best to talk to a professional, especially if pimples are a recurring problem. If you have questions about your skin, please message your Curology provider for expert advice!


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