How to Know When to Pop a Pimple

by Robin Raven

Popping a pimple has long been discouraged by mothers and dermatologists everywhere. However, even at the risk of scarring, some simply cannot help themselves. Walking around with a pimple on showcase is too great a social burden to carry. Here is how, and when, to safely pop a zit. We're all different, though. Make sure to get the advice of your dermatologist before you make a decision on how to handle a pimple.

Items you will need

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Warm water
  • Band-aid
  • Sterile gauze
  • Cotton balls
  • Acne cream
Step 1

Know that you can help the healing process on your face by popping a pimple. It has to be done properly and at the right time. Pimples should only be popped when they have been there for a while. If you have just noticed a zit, leave it there for a while. Give it time to heal on its own. It usually will heal and disappear if left alone. The body is designed to heal itself in just that way, even when pesky acne is involved.

Step 2

Use an acne cream if you don't notice healing after having been patient. It's a good idea to get a strong one with salicylic acid.

Step 3

Start considering popping the pimple if the cream did not work as well. Your pimple has likely now found its way to the surface and is almost all white. Then, and only then, should you think of popping it.

Step 4

Take a long shower before popping a pimple. A relaxing bubble bath is even better. You want to the skin to be nice and supple before you attempt the popping.

Step 5

Observe your pimple before proceeding. If it is small and not full of pus, do not attempt to pop it. You will make matters much worse for your face. When it is full of the white stuff, it is about to pop on its own anyway. You can help it along in this manner.

Step 6

Take the traditional steps in popping a pimple. Wash your hands thoroughly. Using sterile gauze, apply pressure around the pimple. Be careful not to go towards the center. If it doesn't want to pop, don't force it. Soak it in water.

Step 7

Try applying pressure again. When and if it pops, apply cotton right away. Make sure everything is completely sterile, including your hands. Be gentle with it and apply antibiotic ointment. Put on a band-aid and leave it alone for healing.


  • Make an appointment with a dermatologist for her assistance if it's a deep lesion, or if you are unsure. Remember it's better to be safe than sorry. Err on the side of caution when deciding on the solution for your acne.


  • Remember, even when done properly, popping a pimple yourself always carries the risk of scarring. Never "play" with a pimple. Although it is tempting to mess with a pimple that will constantly remind you of its presence when your hand goes to your face, don't do it. This can lead to permanent scarring. Leave deep lesions alone. Never, ever attempt to pop a small pimple that is not full of white stuff. Pushing a pimple can push the bacteria deeper into the skin.

About the Author

Robin Raven was first published in 1998. She has contributed to newspapers, magazines and online publications, including "The Malibu Times," "Act'ionLine" for Friends of Animals, USA Today Travel Tips and the official Melissa Gilbert website. Raven specializes in travel, health, beauty, culture, vegan nutrition, joyful living, arts and entertainment. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing.