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How to Pop a Pimple

When You Must Pop, Do it Safely and Effectively

Last updated: August 10, 2018

Article Summary

Pop only pimples with a white or yellow center that are ready to be popped. Use a gentle touch and don't overdo it. 

Written instructions

Common advice is to let your body heal a pimple on its own without popping. However, in the real world, it's not great for your social life to go around with a bulging white zit for the world to see. Plus, when done properly, popping a pimple can be beneficial to the healing process. Reserve this technique only for pimples that are ready to be popped—all the way at the surface and white/yellow. After a shower is best, when the skin is supple, but popping can be successfully performed with dry skin as well.

  1. Disinfect a needle with rubbing alcohol. A basic sharp sewing needle is a good choice because sewing needles are strong and sharp.
  2. Gently prick the pimple's surface.
  3. Take two tissues and wrap each of your index fingers with them.
  4. Squeeze from the sides, confidently but gently, using a down-and-in motion. Don't force it. If the pimple is ready it will pop. If it doesn't, leave it be. Stop if clear fluid or blood starts to come out.
  5. Walk away from the mirror! Continuing to work at a lesion that is not ready to be popped will most definitely introduce unnecessary irritation and can also increase the chance of scarring.


It is very important to leave deep, painful lesions (cysts and nodules) untouched. Do not attempt to pop them. Instead, a effective option for these types of lesions is to see a dermatologist who can administer a cortisone injection, which will bring down swelling and potentially reduce or eliminate scarring. Often dermatologists will accept a quick "emergency" appointment for such matters.


Glycolic acid may help prevent a spot from fully developing.

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Our team of medical doctors, biology & chemistry PhDs, and acne experts work hand-in-hand with Dan (Acne.org founder) to provide the most complete information on all things acne. If you find any errors in this article, kindly use this Feedback Form and let us know.

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