Does Popping Pimples Cause Acne Scarring?

I don’t know about you, but I have seen so many recent posts about pimple popping and even the correct technique to do it, that I decided to write a post.  Over the past 30 years I have treated over 3,000 patients for acne scarring and I can say without a doubt that one of the most common causes for significant acne scarring is pimple popping, probing and squeezing.
You can think of a pimple as a little pocket beneath the skin that holds acne bacteria or germs and natural skin oils. In some cases this germ population can rapidly grow causing a localized infection. Our body tries to combat the infection by sending in cells to combat it.  This results in an accumulation of puss, which causes inflammation, swelling and pain. The red head now becomes a white head and the surrounding skin becomes reddened and tender.  It is only natural for us to want to remove this unsightly growth with either trying to squeeze the pimple or to lance it.

updated acne diagramSo now you have committed the ultimate skin care sin: you have popped the pimple.  This only worsens the problem by forcing this infected material deeper into your skin and spreading the infection to nearby normal skin which can result in the appearance of even more pimples.  After the pimple has been probed, picked and popped and is finally starting to heal itself, a new problem now occurs.  In an attempt to heal this process, your body naturally produces more collagen at the site, which can lead to scar contraction. The contraction process causes the skin surface to cave in, resulting in a sunken acne scar. Now if that wasn’t enough, this scarring can cause the most common long-term result of irregular pigmentation, or a darkened spot, at the site of the healed pimple.

My Approach to Stopping the Enlargement of that Pimple and Reducing the Risk of Permanent Acne Scarring:

 When the pimple passes the stage of redness and swelling and now comes to a head, wipe the area with alcohol and wash your hands. Then take a clean washcloth and hold it under hot water until you can barely stand the heat.  (Don’t burn yourself).  Slightly rub the hot wash cloth with your index finger over the pimple.  This will open the pore and allow the infected fluid to escape.  (Don’t squeeze).  Now take a Q tip and dip it in a natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory solution and rub it over the opening in the skin. I recommend not using an ointment for it may further clog the opening in the skin. Because of the demand, a biochemist who specializing in skin care developed a natural topical solution specifically formulated for this treatment.

You can repeat this process several times over the next 24 hours to ensure a good result. Avoid the use of an excessively drying topical, such as benzoyl peroxide, because they can cause flaking and excessive drying of the adjacent already inflamed skin.

I hope this information on such a disgusting issue has been informative.  You might want to stop by later because I will be posting on the ways that scarring develops after the squeezing of a pimple. Stay Well



6 replies

  1. 3,000 people with these scars in 30 years isn’t quite as bad as you’re attempting to make it sound. I scar very easily and have quite a few from mosquto bites, surgery, general accidents, and self harm.
    I also have bad OCD and my complusion to get rid of any lump on my skin is unhealthy. Yes I see someone about this but it’s not high on my to do list (I have other more important illnesses), I bring this up because I pick at pimples until I do have scabs. People have said I resemble the sort of marks seen on ice addicts. I’ve been doing this for years, since 08 or 07. I have yet to get an infection, worse pimples, or scars from doing this. Perhaps I’m sheilded from scars due to having open pores on my face or something else but my general message is that sweaping genralisations mean nothing. One size fits all advice is not pratical especally with something that has so many different verables like immune function, age of the skin, life style factors, family history, and collagen production ect.

    • I have reviewed your comment and agree with most of what you are suggesting. First for clarity I would like to point out that your statement implies that all of the 3,000 patients that I have treated for acne scarring were secondary to pimple trauma which is not the case. However in my experience, there has been a significant enough number of cases where more pronounced scarring has occurred that I felt compelled to make the correlation. This is not a controversial position regarding the higher incidence and severity of scarring in the vast majority of treating physicians. Of course other factors contribute to the incidence of scarring, as you have pointed out and if your treatment plan works for you, that is all that counts. I try to present a position that based on experience and fact and if that position will benefit the vast majority of my readers then I have succeeding in helping them. Stay well

  2. I am allergic to rubbing alcohol (other names include isopropyl alcohol, isopropanol, SD alcohol 40-b). I break out in tiny itchy bumps similar to folliculitis, and this reaction lasts for 6 weeks after contact (every time I get a flu shot, I have to buy my own Betadine). Because this product is not an officially recognized allergen, even products labeled “hypoallergenic” require a scrutinous, squinty thrice-over of the ingredients label, and a three day spot test just to be sure. I also have extraordinarily dry skin. Even in the summer when everyone else is complaining about being shiny, I’m still slathering on moisturizer (spf 30 of course). My question to you is, what can I use besides rubbing alcohol, that will neither make my skin even more impossibly dry nor cause an ugly month-and-a-half rash?

    Thank you in advance for your expertise!

    • I would recommend the Saturation Aloe Scrub and the Saturation Herbal Creme at The both have a gentle formula that will not irritate delicate skin. Good LucK.

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