The Proper Way To Pop A Pimple

There is a right way to pop a pimple; take it from me, I do this professionally. If done improperly, you could turn a minor blemish into a full-blown pimple crisis. If done correctly, you could eliminate that spot in 72 hours. Here are 10 tips to properly pop a pimple.


As a dermatologist, I am obligated to tell you: “Do not attempt to pop your pimples.” But I know you are going to do it anyway, so here’s how to do it properly:

  1. Pick only pimples that are ready to be popped. The white blood cells will have collected and be walled off in the follicle, forming a visible white head on the surface. If it does not have a white head, then squeezing, mashing, poking, or prodding will only make it worse.
  2. Wash your face and hands with warm water and soap and pat dry.
  3. Get a needle. Carefully pass the tip of the needle through a flame from a lighter or a match. Use the tip of the flame, this is the hottest part.
  4. Wait a few seconds until the tip of the needle cools (never touch a glowing hot needle in case you were unsure). Using a cotton ball or even paper towel soaked with rubbing alcohol, wipe the tip of the needle clean.
  5. Gently wipe the pimple and surrounding area with another alcohol wipe or alcohol-soaked cotton ball.
  6. With the needle nearly parallel to your skin, impale the head of the pimple. If possible, stay parallel with the skin and gently push the needle thorough the other side of the pimple then pull up, opening the top of the pimple.
  7. If no pus comes out, then the pimple was not ready (see #1). Gently blot and wait 12 to 24 hours to try again.
  8. Using even pressure push down, perpendicular to your skin, around the pimple. Do not squeeze the pimple between your thumb and fingers. Squeezing can cause the pustule to rupture backwards, deeper into your skin, creating further inflammation and turning a little pimple into a big, red nodule.
  9. Gently wipe the area with a clean alcohol wipe or alcohol-soaked cotton ball. You can now apply some witch hazel if you have some, or just hold light pressure for a minute or so.
  10. Apply an acne spot treatment to the area such as Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Eliminating Spot Gel or Neutrogena Skin Clearing Oil free Concealer. This will also create a barrier between the pimple and your makeup if you wear it.

If your pimple persists, consider visiting your dermatologist. He or she can sometimes inject it with steroid to help it resolve faster.

You might also like:


Bacteria Secretes Sticky Glue to Cause Acne

Are You Over-Scrubbing Your Face?

A Proper Shave

SkinCare Myths: Body Sweat Makes Acne Worse

Why Do Women Bruise More Easily than Men?

Like this blog? Grab The Derm Feed

Photo credit: Zach Slootsky

42 thoughts on “The Proper Way To Pop A Pimple”

  1. Thank you for this excellent information. I sometimes get questions from young people just starting to shave about pimples. I’ve linked this post to a post over at my blog at

  2. Just give it a good squeeze, never did me any harm, sure my face has the texture of the moons surface, but it adds character!

  3. No. That is not me in the photo. It’s from Flickr.

  4. hmm
    are you advocating neutrogena as a product then?

    do u think use of Dalacin topical gel is good for eradicating pimples?

  5. Christi F says:

    What do you think of using very fine lancets (the kind sold in drugstores for diabetic testing) over needles?

  6. the top of the flame isnt the hottest the blue flame is

  7. Mark-


    I do think that Neutrogena has good skin care products. Dalacin is topical clindamycin — an excellent acne therapy, especially when combined with benzoyl peroxide.

    Sounds even better than needles.

    OK. Just googled it – the most heat is at the tip (heat rises), but the hottest part of the flame is the blue part, you’re correct. Thanks! 🙂

  8. It’s fun to pop pimples with a needle. If anyone needs some help just give me a ring!!

  9. I hate pimples and I just popped mine using your technique…thanks

  10. Not taking anything away from the above procedure, most of us either do not have the necessary tools, or want just a quick fix( by nature most people are impatient) which most often will result in imroper popping of the pimple.
    My advise is never Pop a pimple otherwise you are running the risk of that pimple haunting you for at least the next two weeks.
    Otherwise if worst comes to worst, get someone to perform the above procedure

  11. What Gilbert just said was DISCUSTING!!!

  12. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more articles from you in the future.

  13. Thanks- I normally leave zits alone, but I had one in a really inconvenient location on my back that was downright PAINFUL. I popped that sucker and pretty much immediately, the pain was gone.

  14. haha
    thats funny

  15. Pingback: Shout Outs
  16. Thanks thanks thanks! I was looking
    for something along lines of this for
    hours and couldn ’t find it.
    Subscribed and will definitely drop a
    word about your site!

  17. Cool! Always love trying something new, I’m gonna have to try this out tomorrowThanks!Mandy

  18. I see anything from using hydrogen peroxide to rubbing alcohol to benzoyl peroxide as a finisher. And hydrogen peroxide or sallycic acide for preparing the face. Why can’t no one settle?

  19. Hydrogen Peroxide or using Rubbing Alcohol can dry out your skin. I found out a few years ago that I am allergic to Saylicic Acid.

  20. Even though I often have the urge to pop the pimple (and get blemishes that lasts up to 6 months) I’m trying to hold myself these days. However I’m using Perrigo’s Erythromycin-Benzoyl Peroxide Topical Gel currently. Although it helps with my acne after using it once, but it dries up my skin (I have a paper dry skin to begin with) very much. Now I have white-heads where my pimples used to be. How do I fix this?

  21. joe shmozykins says:

    heat rises, the top its where the most heat is accumulated and concentrated.

  22. Well written! Whoever says popping a pimple is wrong, doesn’t know what their saying. Popping a pimple incorrectly is bad for you, but if you know what your doing, it’s proven that it can cause the spot to recover more quickly.

  23. The following was a excellent piece of writing

  24. But if you don`t squeeze you can`t get “everything” out and it will form again.That`s just my experience….

  25. Thank you Dr. for a subject that is not typically discussed in such great detail. My son has occasional acne problems and this will be a tremendous help.

  26. You can pop a pimple by pulling the skin apart. It really works and won’t irritate or scar your skin.

  27. Dr. Benabio, I just want to thank you for writing this article i googled “how to pop a pimple without leaving a mark” and the search brought me to your blog. I used to pop pimples and wonder why they would leave marks turns out i was doing it wrong because i was not disinfecting the needle, i was just cleaning it with hydrogen peroxide. I followed your steps yesterday to pop one and it didn’t leave a mark, i used rubbing alcohol instead and also passed the needle through a lighter flame. Thank you so much, i am traveling next week and i was so depressed that i had to fight another zit but your method worked like a charm. I hate acne i have been fighting it for many many years, i am using Tazorac and Duac and they do a wonderful job but i still breakout occasionally *sigh*. Sorry for the long post !

  28. I tried this method and it WORKED!!! Im so excited.I had a pimple right above my lip that was huge!Now its small after I did these steps. Its still noticible but its not as big 🙂 Thanks a lot!!

  29. it can irritate your skin and make more if you pop pimples by just squeezing with your fingers. plus the oils from your fingers will make it dirty and also irritate it. and it leaves ugly scars. so do not pop pimples unless you want it more! but “the proper way to pop a pimple” is probably the safest way to do it with out leaving a scar or getting more. i hope i helped. you should do an article on the dalacin t and benzoyl peroxide strategy.. i think it would help alot of people (not like this didnt)

  30. Well Doc., im sorry i could not get u totally. (ie., pushing down, do not squeeze, perpendicular to skin,etc)
    It would be complete when u make a video of it.
    Or i request anyone else who reads this comment to share such a video link.
    Thanks 🙂

  31. Nikki cotz says:

    I just popped my pimple and it squirt Alot on my mirror; blood, puss the works. It was really gross 🙂 I thought it was abnormal for it to squirt lol

  32. Blue fire is hotter than orange fire, yes- but the tip of a blue flame is still the hottest point on the flame.

  33. seriously i took the time to read this whole thing….but….their might be over 9000 different ways of doing it but its NEVER like my way….i mastered the pimple popping skills..
    its done in three steps. here it goes

    First step: roll both your fingers in kleenex
    Second step: gently pop your target(pimple)…gently or you will fk up ur skin
    Third step: put POLYSPORIN “2 antibiotic-fast healing formula”

    Reason: doctors say popping pimples might leave scars wich is why my ultimate formula was aproved by the one and only Dr Oz.

    try it its sounds like im joking….but im not
    leave your comments

Comments are closed.