Hypothetically speaking, of course.
When we were in high school, we spent a good chunk of our afternoons daydreaming about being in our 20s. Why? Well, as a teenager, it was assumed that by the time we were 20-somethings, acne would be a thing of the past and buying alcohol would no longer require a fake ID.
The good news is that buying wine as an adult is as easy as pie. As for acne? That’s a different story.
In 2017, it’s estimated that 1.25 million Australian women suffer from adult acne. The causes of acne in adult women vary and include stress, hormones, health and genetics. While getting rid of acne is tough, popping pimples is easy. But, are we doing more harm than good by popping a pimple?
Here, ELLE speaks to Dr Sandra Lee—aka Dr Pimple Popper—to find out if it’s ever okay to pop your pimples.
IS IT BETTER TO POP YOUR PIMPLES OR LEAVE THEM ALONE?
Ideally, Dr Lee encourages her patients to leave pimples alone. “I’m going to tell people not to squeeze their pimples,” she explains. “That’s not something that I want to really encourage anyone to do.”
If you have angry pimples, now is the best time to see a dermatologist. “There are things that we can do in the office, prescriptions we can give or treatments that we can do to help to really slow down the progression of a pimple,” she explains. Dermatologists can prescribe topical treatments, including Aczone. Alternatively, they can work with you to find the right at-home skincare routine, containing salicylic acid-based products or products that are even gentler, like Cetaphil.
However, Dr Lee is a realist—people are going to pop their pimples regardless of their dermatologist’s advice. If you are going to go down that pimple popping route, there’s a perfect time to do it: “I know myself when I have my own pimple that there are certain perfect times where you can pop it but minimize your risk of infection and scarring.”
WHEN SHOULD YOU POP A PIMPLE?
If a pimple has come to the surface—bonus points if there's a white head!—that’s the perfect time to pop. “I’m not telling you to do it yourself but the best time to pop a pimple is when it’s come to a head. That’s because you have the best chance of evicting all that pus that’s in it.”
If the pimple is below the surface, don’t even think about it. “When you have something that’s under your skin and you feel it coming—you know there’s something coming but you don’t see it—that’s not the time,” says Dr Lee. “If you squeeze your pimple at that time, it’s just going to make it bigger and more angry.”
HOW TO POP A PIMPLE WITHOUT CAUSING SCARRING
So, your pimple has come to the surface and you really want to pop it? Try the following process to minimise the risk of infection and scarring:
1. Make sure your face is squeaky clean.
2. Apply a warm compress.
3. Sterilize your hands.
4. Use two Q-tips on either side of the pimple and squeeze.