Tips & Tutorials
Ingredient Stories

Is Popping Pimples Bad? What our Dermatologist Says


There are two ways to treat pimples: the right way, and the wrong way. Popping pimples, although it might send a rush of satisfying adrenaline through your nervous system, is bad.
If you're interested in the right way to deal with pimples, read this post here: How to get rid of acne
We consulted with Dr. Steve, our founding dermatologist, to find out why popping pimples is bad, and if there is any truth to the idea you can get rid of pimples overnight — or in five minutes.
 In this article you’ll learn:

  1. Popping pimples — why it’s bad.
  2. Can you remove pimples in five minutes?
  3. Can you really remove pimples overnight?
  4. Can benzoyl peroxide treat acne fast?
  5. Can aspirin remove acne quickly?
  6. Can ice be good for acne?
  7. Can toothpaste have an effect on acne?
  8. How dermatologists can pop pimples
  9. How to get rid of pimples at home

Popping pimples — why it’s bad

A pimple is the perfect storm of excess sebum (oil), dead skin cells, and bacteria trapped in a pore. The result is red, tender bumps capped with white pus. For many people, the instinct is to remove it quickly by squeezing. “But popping pimples won’t help you get the outcome you want, which is to get the bacteria microorganisms out of your skin,” said Dr. Steve, our dermatologist-in-chief.
Here are the downsides of pimple popping:
Increased blemishes: Popping a papule (a pimple without a white head) will break open the skin like a spigot and release pus, thus forming a scab and darkening the surrounding skin.

“This can lead to acne nodules (a small hard bump beneath the skin surface) or cysts (large, red, painful breakouts deep in your skin, like boils),” said Dr. Steve.
Increased inflammation: You might reconsider popping your pimple  if you knew that the pore is already plenty swollen and you’re just increasing the stress to the skin. When you squeeze a pimple, you can force the debris from the pore deeper into the follicle. “That can compromise the follicle wall,” said Dr. Steve, “and allow the infected material (including pus) to spill into the dermis, the lower level of skin. This can result in even more redness, swelling, and an even larger new pimple.”
Increased scarring: The most far-ranging damage caused by popping pimples is acne scarring. That’s because any time your skin suffers damage, skin can be lost during the healing process, which leads to depressed or pitted acne scars. The pimple itself has already damaged the skin, by squeezing it you’re incurring a greater chance of tissue loss.
“The longer a pimple takes to heal, the higher the risk of scarring,” said Dr. Steve. “And popping or squeezing a pimple will not accelerate healing — ever.” 

Can you remove pimples in 5 minutes?

Dr. Steve: Acne forms over four weeks — that’s how long it takes for the oil and p acnes bacteria to clog up a hair follicle and cause an immune response that leads to inflammation and finally a pimple. So you’re not going to get rid of it in one day. It’s never going to happen.

Can you really remove pimples overnight?

Dr. Steve: The battle against acne isn’t won overnight. It’s not even won over a few weeks. I tell my patients over and over again: you must commit to fighting real acne for a minimum of 90 days to see results. So I will say it one more time: to effectively battle acne you must commit to your regimen for at least 90 days to see results. Got it? Great. Most of the battles against acne are not lost because of the treatment, but by the consistency of use. Stay with the plan!

Can benzoyl peroxide treat acne fast?

Dr. Steve: Benzoyl peroxide only kills the bacteria that causes acne. It doesn't affect the inflammation, it doesn't affect the keratinization. It doesn’t get to all the roots of the issue. Any brands that are making the claim that you can treat acne fast with benzoyl peroxide are being disingenuous.

Can crushed aspirin remove acne quickly?

Dr. Steve: Aspirin has a derivative of salicylic acid in it, which can be anti-inflammatory, so I can see why someone might think it could work. But crushing it up and applying it to pimples is absolutely not going to get rid of your acne in five minutes. It doesn't make any sense.

Can ice be good for acne? 

Dr. Steve: Ice will help reduce the redness very briefly because it causes vasoconstriction of the blood vessels. But it's not going to get rid of your acne in five minutes because once you take away the ice, it'll be red again.

Does toothpaste get rid of pimples?

Using toothpaste on pimples is yet another one of those hacks that seems great but isn’t. The reason it got started is that in the past, some toothpastes contained an ingredient called Triclosan, a chemical that kills bacteria, including the P. Acne bacteria that causes acne.

Also, toothpaste can contain baking soda, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide, all of which can dry out skin, which may shrink pimples. Finally, the menthol in toothpaste can create a tingly cooling feeling that reduces pain and swelling, albeit temporarily.

According to Dr. Steve, however, there are several reasons why you shouldn’t use toothpaste as an acne treatment. “First of all, toothpaste is formulated for your hard enamel-covered teeth -- not the sensitive skin on your face.” Simply put, the chemicals are too strong for your dimples.

Also, toothpaste can irritate your skin. “Toothpaste has a basic pH level and can irritate healthy skin, which has a naturally acidic pH,” says Dr. Steve, who notes that upsetting your pH with too much baking soda could lead to rashes and burning.

How dermatologists can pop pimples

If you develop a cystic pimple, the most severe type, dermatologists typically puncture the skin and then apply pressure to release the pus and/or blood. Same with milia and lipoma, which are then lifted out with a tweezer. With the exception of some cysts, these growths are all benign, so removal is often a matter of comfort — or timing (performed before you have your photo taken for your driver's license).

How to get rid of pimples at home

Here’s the right way to deal with pimples:
Step One: Face Wash

Sayonara bar soap! You need real exfoliating face wash to get rid of pimples. Most of our face washes feature salicylic acid, which is a liquid exfoliator that loosens and breaks apart attachments between cells in the outer layers of the skin.

Step Two: A Retinol-Based Night Cream

Retinol, a workhorse ingredient, accelerates cell turnover and saps oil — a potent combination. It’s the key ingredient found in all of Geologie’s Repairing Night Creams --  making the night regimen by far the most important aspect of any battle against acne.
For more on how to prevent and treat acne, check this blog post.
To get the full benefit and the proper percentages of retinol, take our diagnostic. We’ve helped thousands of guys tame their acne and get clear skin. We can help you too.

How Geologie can help fight acne 


Go personalized! Take our skincare quiz for an anti aging skincare routine personalized just for you.

Want something quick and easy? Try our Acne Duo, Sensitive Acne Duo or Extra Strength Acne Duo. This is our simple 2-step skincare solution made up of our salicylic acid face wash and retinol night cream - perfect for fighting breakouts.

Not ready for a routine? A good place to start is with our best selling Salicylic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser 2-Pack. The primary active ingredient is 2% salicylic acid – is an ace exfoliator that combats acne and oil, reduces inflammation, and promotes healing.

Still not sure? Browse our entire catalog of acne skincare products.


Ready for personalized skincare?