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How to Stop Popping Pimples & Effective Alternatives

You don’t want to. You promise yourself you won’t. But the second you see that whitehead shining as bright as the North Star, you can’t help it. 

You pick, you prod, you try to pop your pimple so that no one knows it was ever there. It goes without saying it never works. Even if you pop it, you leave the area red, irritated, and way more noticeable than it was before you squeezed. 

Feeling out of control with picking your skin is frustrating, and eventually leads to scarring, and unfortunately, simply getting clearer skin may not be the solution. Ready for an alternative? Read on. 

What Causes Skin Picking?

Picking and poking at your skin is fairly normal. Everyone picks at pimples, rough patches, or other areas of their skin from time to time. However, for some, skin picking can become so much of a habit that it becomes an actual disorder. 

Excoriation, or “skin picking disorder,” refers to skin picking that is repetitive, causes open wounds that inflict tissue damage, and causes a person social harm. 

Most of us don’t fall into this category, but if you do, a therapist can help you recover. 

For the general population, skin picking happens as a result of discovering bumps and blemishes on the skin. From blackheads to whiteheads, and those oh-so-awful under the skin bumps, we’ll go full send on a pimple in an attempt to get rid of them. 

What Happens When You Pick Your Skin?

Popping a pimple doesn’t work. Your dermatologist 0/10 would not recommend it as a way to deal with your acne bumps. 

To understand what happens when you pop a pimple, like a whitehead, you need to understand what’s going on below that shiny badge of hormone fluctuation

How Pimples Form

Your skin is covered in pores. Your skin is also continually renewing itself, which means it’s constantly making new skin cells in the deepest layers of your skin, and pushing dying cells to the surface. 

Once skin cells reach the surface of your skin, they die, and are normally sloughed away when you wash your face. However, dead skin cells can sometimes mix with excess sebum (your face’s natural oil). 

Sebum is a waxy substance that binds to these skin cells. The mixture clogs the pore, creating a pimple. Bacteria, sweat, and dirt, can also show up for the party, creating a larger blemish. 

How Do Different Blemishes Form?

All blemishes form the same way, but they often look different. 

Blackheads, for instance, are called open comedones. They appear black because they are not covered, leaving the bacteria inside exposed to oxygen, which creates the dark color. Whiteheads are closed comedones, typically raised above the surface of your skin. 

Small, red bumps are called papules. These bumps can either become whiteheads, or remain in papule stage. Large, cyst-like bumps that feel hot and painful to the touch are called nodules, or under-the-skin bumps. 

Why Doesn’t Popping a Pimple Work?

When you approach a pimple, you can only see the top of it. What you cannot see is the rest of the pore that is also clogged with sebum and pus. The pimple you see on the surface extends to deeper layers of your skin, and it’s almost always impossible for you to remove.

When you squeeze a pimple, you: 

  • Increases discomfort. The trauma on your skin (especially when you squeeze hard) causes swelling, which is your skin’s response when it is injured. 
  • Spread germs. When you pop a pimple, the germ has a chance to spread to other pores, causing additional bumps and blemishes. 
  • Create a scar. If you really squeeze hard, you’ll likely break the skin on the sides of the pimple, which will create a scab. If you subsequently pick at the scan, you could end up with a scar. 
  • Make it so much more noticeable. We know, it’s white and shiny and you feel like the entire world can see it. But if you pop it, it will only look more noticeable. Chances are no one is going to notice it but you in the first place. 

So what can you do instead of popping your pimples? You’ve got solutions! 

How to Stop Popping Pimples

Even if you don’t pick your skin that often, you can avoid picking and popping all together with these easy and effective alternatives. 

Know Your Triggers

First, know your triggers. It’s the number one way to stop poking and prodding your skin. Sometimes, we pick our skin because there’s a bump. Other times, we’re just bored, feeling stressed, or anxious. 

Before you make your way to the mirror, take a moment to pause and be present. If there’s no real reason for you to head to the mirror, try thinking of whether you might be experiencing an unpleasant mood, if you're hungry, or avoiding something you need to do. 

If you know what leads you to the nearest mirror to pick, you can try to avoid that situation. For instance, if you’re prone to picking your skin before you get in the shower, stay out of the bathroom until the water heats up, then walk directly into the shower, bypassing the mirror. 

Use Pimple Patches

If you’re serious about leaving your skin alone, pimple patches can help. Pimple patches are small, transparent stickers that you place over your pimples to help shrink and erase them. These patches use hydrocolloid technology, which has been used in wound care for decades. 

Hydrocolloid pimple patches protect your pimple from external stressors (including your fingers) while gently pulling pus and fluid from the pimple. In a matter of hours, your pimple literally vanishes. 

Rael’s pimple patches also contain ingredients to help make sure your skin isn’t stripped of moisture or left irritated and red. We offer three different kinds of pimple patches to help protect you from picking at your skin and help erase the bumps (and the temptation). 

  1. Invisible Spot Cover. The invisible spot cover is our original pimple patch. So small and transparent, no one will ever know it’s on your skin. Easy to apply, you can cover a bump with a pimple sticker faster than you can attempt to squeeze or pick. 

  2. Spot Control Cover. We know pimples sometimes come in pairs (or worse, clusters). For those days when you’ve got a serious little breakout, our spot control cover is designed to cover and protect the area. 

    Acne hotspots can heal without interference from your fingers (and in record time). Peel the sticker off to reveal seriously clarified skin. 

  3. Microcrystal Spot Cover. Got a papule or deep, under-the-skin bump? No worries. Our microcrystal spot cover can handle the job. Hydrocolloid technology combines with bacteria-busting tea tree oil, hydratic hyaluronic acid, and deep-penetrating totarol to shrink and remove even the hardest early-stage acne bumps. 

Our patches leave your skin smooth, clarified, and free from pick and pop marks. It’s the easiest way to prevent picking and improve your skin. 

Use Better Skin Care

If your only real trigger is bumps themselves, consider switching up your skincare routine. If you’re currently using harsh products to deal with bumps and blemishes, you could be doing more harm than good. 

Sometimes, products designed to dry out acne-prone skin leave it so dry and irritated that your skin produces even more oil to compensate. When this happens, you may end up with more bumps. 

Intead, look for products that contain natural, plant-based ingredients that are gentle on your skin and keep it hydrated and soothed. Rael’s entire skin care line is formulated with K Beauty technology, which is known for keeping skin looking youthful, clear, and glowing. 

Seek Professional Help

When your skin picking is interfering with your work, school, and/or social life, it could be a sign there’s a deeper issue. Skin picking disorder is a real thing, affecting about 1 out of 20 people. 

If you find you simply cannot stop picking your skin, are developing open wounds and scars, and are feeling incredibly anxious about your skin, you should speak to a medical professional. A trained professional can help you get back on track and avoid unhealthy behaviors. 

The Takeaway

Popping your pimples never helps, it only makes your skin look worse. Popping and picking spreads bacteria, can cause more pimples, and can create scars and swelling on your skin that are more noticeable than the pimple itself. 

Using pimple patches is an easy way to get rid of your bump fast and protect it from your fingers. Rael has pimple patches for every kind of blemish you experience, as well as a great line of skin care that can help you get clearer, healthier skin. 



Sources:

What is Skin Picking Disorder? | IOCDF.org 

How Pimples Form | Cigna 

Skin Conditions by the Numbers | AAD 

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