You know you’re not supposed to pick pimples, but honestly it just soothes the shit out of you—until you look in the mirror and see the same zit coming back bigger and bolder the next morning. And then you’ve got to pick again, because you’re already stressed out about fitting into that magenta strapless bridesmaids’ dress and getting seated at the weirdo table with irrationally angry Aunt Debbie at the reception.
To make matters worse, your chin volcano has now sprouted neighboring offspring—little zit clusters sprinkled across your skin like remnants of a bacterial glitter bomb. They should reach their peak just as the wedding photographer calls for fun, casual shots by the gazebo.
Your plan is to just keep scraping at those zits—big and small—for the next week to keep them pruned until the big day, slap on a half-gallon of concealer for the photos, and then deal with the facial fallout once your cuz and her partner are off to Hawaii for the honeymoon.
How bad is it to pop your pimples?
Bottom line? It’s not great, but you probably already knew that. It can lead to “worse inflammation, prolonged duration of your pimple, and can cause scarring,” says Tsippora Shainhouse, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor of pediatric dermatology at the University of Southern California. The scarring can be more frequent and noticeable in people with darker skin tones.
What happens when you pop a pimple?
“Pimples are essentially small sacs under the skin that are filled with natural oils, dead skin cells and sometimes bacteria and white blood cells,” Shainhouse explains. “Sometimes, they have a small opening to the skin surface—a pore. When you squeeze the skin and ‘burst’ the pimple, you’re creating a tear in the skin, which then needs to heal and can leave a scar.” She adds that if the popped pimple had acne-causing bacteria in it (more formally known as Propionobacterium acnes), then it could spread into adjacent pores when the pus squirts onto your skin.