Why you shouldn’t pick at your acne

woman looking at skin in mirror

When you have got acne on your face, it can be tempting for most to have a little squeeze. Unfortunately, most of us do it and if you haven’t, you have probably wanted to do it before. Spots appear when your pores become blocked, and it can be triggered by bacteria, hormones, oil and dead skin cells.

Different types of acne

Your skin is covered in pores which can become filled with dead skin or oil. When this happens, cysts or acne spots form causing an uncomfortable and sometimes painful area. The most common type of blemishes include:

Whiteheads – Whiteheads form when your pores become clogged with dead skin cells and oil. This can cause a small amount of pus or a white plug to grow under the skin.

Blackheads – When you have an open pore on your skin and it gets clogged with dead skin cells and oil, blackheads can form. When the mixture of dead skin cells and oil become exposed to the air, it discolours the inside to make it look black.

Pustules – Pustules are deep acne spots that can be very painful and difficult to remove. They are usually red and inflamed and can often cause scarring.

Why you shouldn’t pop acne

Whether it was from your mum or from a friend, one way or another, you have probably heard that you shouldn’t pop your spots, but why? Here are a few reasons:

  • You can encourage acne scarring by aggravating the area and creating a wound in the skin
  • Popping a spot can spread the bacteria around the face from the infected pus which is contained in the pore.
  • By popping a spot, it can delay the natural healing process of the body, which can cause the spot to take a longer time to heal.
  • You could actually push the bacteria deeper into your skin which could create a worse outbreak and become inflamed
  • By breaking the skin, you could leave the spot susceptible to an infection, making it more painful, inflamed and red.

It only takes up to a week for a spot to heal on its own but when you pop a spot it can extend the healing time by a further 2 weeks.

What to do when you can’t help but pick

Have you tried your best to avoid popping the spots on your face, but you just can’t help yourself? If you are going to do it anyway, popping a spot using these steps may help to keep inflammation and irritation of the skin to a minimal level.

  1. Wait until you see a white head on the spot. Popping a spot too early can cause pain and scarring because it is not effective
  2. Wash your hands and skin thoroughly before popping a spot because you don’t want to infect the spot further.
  3. Sterilise a needle with rubbing alcohol and pierce the skin gently where the whitehead is located. By using a needle, it creates only a very small amount of trauma to the top layer of your skin, so it heals quicker and it leaves less scarring. Blackheads are already exposed so you will not have to pierce the skin to extract them.
  4. Push against the sides of the spot gently to extract the oil and pus from the clogged pore.
  5. Clean skin thoroughly after you have popped the spot to make sure it will not spread around the skin or reinfect the spots and become even more inflamed and painful.