Step away from the pimple.
Believe me, I know all too well how tempting it is to pop a pimple, relieving your skin of that gross white or black head darting across your skin.
But there’s a very good reason why you should have patience and wait for the zit to back off on its own: popping could make everything a whole lot worse.
How we get zits
According to the National Institutes of Health, acne is the most common skin disease out there. Chances are you’ve likely encountered an annoying blemish at one point in your life or another.
We still don’t know much about what causes acne, but some factors according to the NIH include hormonal changes that happen in your teenage years, your family history with acne, and some medications.
There’s more than one kind of pimple. The most common are black and whiteheads, but others include papules (small pink bumps), pustules (red on bottom, white on top), nodules (large, painful, solid ones that are deep in the skin), and of course, the most foreboding cysts (these are the deep, painful, pus-filled ones that can cause scarring).
Pimples form under the skin where hair follicles and oil glands called sebaceous glands meet up. The sebaceous glands secrete oil for your skin and hair to keep it lubricated and waterproofed.
But sometimes, skin cells and bacteria can get inside. This clogs up the pores so there’s nowhere for that oil to go.
That’s when you get some backup. Because the oil has nowhere to go, it expands out, pressing against the skin and causing pain and inflammation.
Why you should fight the urge to pop
While this may seem irreversible and the time to start squeezing, dermatologist Michelle Rodgers explains in The Conversation that you’ll only make matters worse.
“Squeezing it can result in these contents being pushed into surrounding skin, making the problem worse,” she wrote. “It can also lead to infection and temporary darkening of the skin in that area.”
Plus, the inflammation can get so bad at times that it leads to scarring. If you let well enough alone, the offending zit should calm down in about a week, or pop on its own time (yikes).
However, this just applies for your average, run-of-the-mill zits. If you’re experiencing anything severe, it’s worth checking in with a dermatologist, who can help figure out the best way to treat it.
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