Want to know how to pop a pimple on your face? It's best to leave "extractions" to the pros, but we all know that sometimes the temptation is too strong. Who wants to face the world with a giant pimple? But before you take matters into your own hands, learn what type of breakout you have, how to pop pimples without causing damage, and how the pros are the ultimate 'pop a pimple' experts.
What type of breakout do I have?
It's best to first determine exactly what kind of pimple you have:
1) Non-inflamed blackheads and whiteheads
A non-inflamed breakout is called an "open comedo" or what you probably think of as a "blackhead." It's a plug of excess oil and cellular debris that is hardened and oxidized by the atmosphere, which is why it looks black. A non-inflamed whitehead is called a "closed comedo." It can have a soft or a hard white bump on the surface, but the surrounding tissue is flesh-colored. They look harmless on the surface, but what you DON'T see is what's brewing underneath it.
2) Inflamed pustules and papules
An inflamed breakout takes the form of either a red raised bump with a whitehead filled with pus (pustule) or a solid red bump that has pus underneath the skin (papule). Both are red/inflamed due to the amount of infection and inflammation within the follicle.
3) Inflamed cysts/nodules
These are deep, hard pimples that don't come to the surface. They're an indication of a much more serious form of acne. These 'cysts' or 'nodules' are a sign of systematic infection that must be treated by a dermatologist.
Should I pop a pimple?
Imagine a water balloon that is being filled up with water. As the contents fill, the balloon stretches and becomes thinner and more prone to rupture. Eventually, it breaks. The same thing happens when you apply pressure to the surface and pop a blackhead, whitehead, or attempt to pop a papule or pustule. You can actually cause damage underneath the skin and here's why:
1) "When you pop a pimple, you actually rupture the stretched and weakened follicle in your skin. This then spills the bacteria, oil and cellular debris underneath your skin, which leads to more breakouts." –Teresa Stenzel, Bioelements Director of Education
2) You may cause lasting damage to the follicle, which can leave a permanent atrophic scar (small pink scar), or in some cases a permanent hypertrophic (keloid) scar.
3) Popping a pimple causes injury to the skin, which can leave an open wound that is more vulnerable to serious infection.
4) When you pick at your skin or pop a pimple it can stimulate the production of melanin, which surges pigment and white blood cells to the damaged area. This is called PIH or Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation. This scar can last for months or years.
How to pop a pimple (if you just can't help yourself)
It's best to leave this to the professionals, but read on if you're determined to pop a pimple yourself:
Treat it topically first. "If you apply a product that contains bacteria killing benzoyl peroxide (likeBioelements Breakout Control) as soon as you feel a blemish coming up underneath the skin, most of the time you'll stop it in its tracks and it will heal within 48 hours." – says Stenzel.
Only pop non-inflamed acne. If the blemish is a red bump, do not try to pop it. It cannot be done safely. If it is a red bump with a white center, the same holds true. Treat it topically and wait for it to heal. It's better to have one pimple for a few days than a scar that lasts forever.
If you see a blackhead or bump that doesn't show signs of infection (i.e. it's not red or inflamed), then follow these steps:
1) Wash your face with warm water and Spotless Cleanser. Be gentle with your pressure so you don't irritate the skin.
2) Place a very warm, moist cloth over the area and let it sit for a few minutes.
3) Wash your hands and wrap tissue or gauze pads around your index fingers.
4) With gentle pressure, place the sides of your fingers (not your fingertips or nails!) on either side of the pimple you wish to extract. Press down lightly and rock your fingers back and forth, slowly bringing them upwards and together. The blackhead should ease out. If it does not, do not try to force it.
If you can, leave it to the pros
Estheticians do perform extractions in the treatment room, but it is entirely different than when you pick at your skin. Stenzel says, "Estheticians are trained rigorously on how to perform extractions properly in a way that doesn't cause injury to the skin. An experienced esthetician has performed this procedure thousands of times on many different faces."
1) Estheticians are trained to perform a SkinReading to properly identify which type of breakout you have and if it's safe to perform an extraction.
2) There are several steps to prepare the skin in the treatment room, including double-cleansing and softening the skin with steam and exfoliation. Bioelements also has a special Skin Sedation/Comedone Removal Prep Mask that prepares the skin even more.
3) Then they sanitize their hands and put on non-latex gloves. They wrap their fingers with sanitary gauze squares and place their fingers on either side of the comedone they wish to extract. Then they press down, and gently rock their fingers back and forth, bringing them gently upward. If the comedone is ready to come out, it will do so. If nothing happens, they stop, and then treat it topically.
"You can't force it without causing injury," says Stenzel.
4) After the extractions are complete, your esthetician will blot the skin with a hydrating and calming antiseptic to soothe and protect the skin.
5) At the end of your treatment, your esthetician will professionally recommend the correct at-home agenda to prevent breakouts and treat current ones.
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