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What happens when you stop popping pimples?

Popping pimples can be tempting, but it’s best to avoid this habit. When you stop popping pimples, several positive changes can happen to your skin. Understanding the benefits of not popping pimples can help motivate you to kick the habit for good.

Why Do People Pop Pimples?

There are a few common reasons why people pop their pimples:

  • To eliminate visible gunk or pus
  • To flatten or reduce the size of the pimple
  • For temporary satisfaction because it can relieve pressure
  • Out of habit or boredom

Seeing a noticeable whitehead makes it very tempting for many people to want to pop it. The urge comes from a desire to expel the gunk and speed up healing.

However, popping pimples is not an effective acne treatment strategy. The risks tend to outweigh any perceived benefits. Resisting the urge delivers better skin results.

What Are the Risks of Popping Pimples?

Dermatologists strongly advise against popping pimples. Here are some of the key risks involved with this habit:

Increased Irritation and Inflammation

The skin around a pimple gets very irritated and inflamed from aggressive popping and squeezing. This can make pimples bigger, redder, and more painful. The extra irritation can also lead to more severe acne breakouts.

Greater Risk of Infection

Pimple popping causes significant skin trauma. An open, aggravated lesion makes it easier for bacteria to invade and infect the area. This ramps up inflammation and can result in more noticeable scarring.


Pimples often heal without any scarring if they are left alone. Popping pimples dramatically increases the odds of permanent pitted scarring. Scars occur from rupturing the skin and destroying collagen fibers.

Delayed Healing

Popping pimples interrupts the natural healing process. The body needs time to reabsorb fluid and tissues on its own timeline. Aggressive squeezing prolongs inflammation.

Spread of Acne Bacteria

The hands inevitably spread acne-causing bacteria to other areas of the face when popping pimples. The pressure applied can also force bacteria deeper into pores, causing more breakouts.

What Happens When You Stop Popping Pimples?

When people kick the habit of popping pimples, several positive changes occur:

Pimples Heal Faster

Pimples follow the quickest healing trajectory when left completely alone. The body can reabsorb fluid and tissues without interference. Healing happens faster without the trauma of squeezing and picking.

Reduced Inflammation

Keeping hands away from pimples prevents extra irritation. Inflammation immediately starts decreasing when the area is no longer disturbed. Less inflammation means less redness, pain, and swelling.

Lower Risk of Infection

An unpopped pimple has a tightly closed, protective layer over the clogged pore. No picking means no open wounds vulnerable to bacteria. Infection becomes far less likely.

Less Scarring

No picking or squeezing preserves collagen structures under the skin’s surface. The skin stays smooth with a lower risk of depressed scars or dark spots after a breakout heals.

Prevents Spreading Acne

Hands stay clean and do not transfer dirt or bacteria to other areas of the face. Keeping fingers away prevents migrating pimples to new locations.

Improved Self-Confidence

Many people habitually pick at pimples in front of mirrors. Stopping this obsessive habit prevents time wasted focused on skin flaws. Confidence improves from spending less time anxiously picking.

Tips to Stop Popping Pimples

Breaking the habit of squeezing pimples requires patience and commitment. Here are some pro tips to stop popping:

Use acne patches

Apply a hydrocolloid patch to cover tempting pimples. The protective barrier prevents touching and promotes healing.

Limit mirror time

Spend less time inspecting the skin up close in the mirror to reduce urge to pick.

Keep hands busy

Fidget toys like stress balls can occupy idle hands prone to wandering to the face.

Get rid of magnifying tools

Magnifying mirrors and extraction tools promote popping. Removing the tools helps break habits.

See a dermatologist

Prescription acne medication helps clear bumps faster with less temptation to pick.

Treat the underlying cause

Target any hormonal imbalance, diet, or stress triggering breakouts through lifestyle changes. This reduces source pimples.

How Long Does It Take to See Results After Stopping Popping?

It takes most people 2-6 weeks to see noticeable differences in their skin after stopping the habit of popping pimples. However, many benefits happen under the skin first. Within just 1-2 weeks, there is decreased inflammation and faster healing happening, even if signs are not obvious yet.

Here is a general timeline of when results become visible:

After 1 week

– Existing pimples start shrinking faster
– No new popped pimple wounds appear
– Less visible irritation and redness

After 2 weeks

-Flares and breakouts are less frequent
– Scabs heal without scarring
– Improved skin texture

After 4 weeks

– Visibly calmer and less oily complexion
– Greatly reduced risk of new scars
– Skin looks and feels smoother

After 6 weeks

– Consistent decrease in pimples
– No signs of dark scars from picking
– Increased confidence in skin’s appearance

How to Care for Skin During the Transition

It takes discipline to quit picking pimples, especially during the first few weeks. Proper skin care helps the process. Here are some tips:

Use a gentle face wash

Cleanse skin twice daily with a mild, non-abrasive cleanser. Avoid scrubbing or irritation.

Apply benzoyl peroxide

Use an acne-fighting ingredient like benzoyl peroxide to heal and prevent pimples without picking.

Moisturize daily

Hydrating moisturizers repair the skin’s protective barrier and reduce inflammation.

Avoid excessive trauma

Do not use irritating masks, extracts, or harsh ingredients while healing.

Protect from sun exposure

UV rays slow healing and make scarring worse. Wear SPF 30 or higher.

Take care removing makeup

Gently remove makeup without rubbing and tugging at delicate skin.

Stick to a routine

Consistency is key. Follow the same regimen steps morning and night.

When to Seek Professional Help

Some cases of severe acne may require professional extraction or injections to avoid picking. See a dermatologist or esthetician if:

– Over-the-counter products do not improve acne after 8 weeks

– Painful, deep cystic blemishes recur monthly

– Acne is leaving raised, fibrous scars

– Habitual picking causes bleeding, wounds, or infection

Professional extractions are done more sterilely than DIY popping. Acne injections help severe cysts flatten quicker under the skin. Getting expert help prevents picking temptation in challenging cases.

Alternative Methods to Popping Pimples

There are a few techniques that can be done instead of popping to help bring pimples to a head or flatten them temporarily:

Warm compress

Soaking a washcloth in warm water and holding it on a pimple for 5-10 minutes can help draw out pus and oil without squeezing. The warmth also reduces swelling. Just avoid scalding heat that further inflames.

Cooling spot treatment

Applying an acne cream or spot treatment containing either a gentle soothing agent like aloe or a mild anti-inflammatory like hydrocortisone can calm bumps without picking.

Hydrocolloid patch

These absorbent dots gently pull out impurities overnight while shielding the pimple from disturbances. In the morning, swelling may be flatter under the patch.

Corticosteroid injection

A dermatologist can inject a diluted cortisone solution into deep cysts or nodules to immediately reduce the size and inflammation without rupturing the skin’s surface.

Potential Side Effects of Quitting Popping

There are a few temporary side effects that may occur in the first 1-2 weeks after quitting the habit of popping pimples:

– Increased temptation and urge to pick as existing pimples seem to “flare up”

– Minor swelling of under-skin pimples as they heal through normal channels rather than expressing contents

– Appearance of more small whiteheads as clogged pores stop being cleared through squeezing

– Anxiety, restlessness, or boredom from habit disruption

These effects should subside within a few weeks. The long-term improvement in skin health makes pushing through any early struggle worthwhile. Be patient and stay committed to see the best results.


Popping pimples can be extremely tempting but leads to more harm than good. Letting pimples heal on their own timeline prevents scarring and infections. Within just a few weeks of quitting the habit, the skin calms down with less irritation, redness, and breakouts. Results continuously improve over 2-6 weeks. Stopping picking promotes faster healing and improves skin’s texture and appearance. With some discipline against touching the face, consistent care, and patience, clear healthy skin emerges on the other side.