What to Do After Popping a Zit?

Cleansing a popped zit is important to ward off potential infections.

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Sometimes, even a generous helping of self-control isn’t enough to keep a frustrated diva from giving into the temptation to pop a zit. Now that you’ve poked a hole in that nasty-looking pimple, you probably feel a lot better -- but your zit war isn’t over yet. Take the time to drain and clean that pus-filled monster properly, or else you might just find yourself the horrified recipient of an even more painful, more obvious skin infection.

Zit Background

Don’t think you’re special just because you have a zit outbreak. Zits are a sign of acne, which occurs more frequently than any other skin condition in the United States, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Acne rears its icky little head when excessive skin oil -- called sebum -- combines with dead skin cells to clog the tiny pores that aerate your skin. Zit outbreaks often result from fluctuating hormone levels and poor skin hygiene.

Drain the Zit

If you don’t want to make your zit problem worse, then always wash your hands thoroughly with hot soap and water before touching your face, especially if you’re planning to pop a zit. Once you’ve popped a pimple, wrap the tips of both of your index fingers in soft tissues or paper towels. Press the two tissue-covered fingers against the skin on both sides of the popped zit and bring them together by gently compressing the skin. This forces the pus to drain from the opening in the skin. Continue the draining process until the draining liquid becomes clear or pinkish in color, recommends Perry Romanowski, cosmetic chemist and author of “Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm?”

Sanitize the Skin

Piercing a hole in that troublesome zit leaves you with an open wound that can easily become infected -- and that’s the last thing you need. Gently wipe the skin surrounding the open, drained zit with a clean, damp washcloth. Allow the skin to dry completely, then apply a thin coating of topical antibiotic ointment across the perforated skin that marks the popped zit, which keeps bacteria from taking up residence in the wound and causing an even nastier skin infection.


Before you give into the temptation to poke a hole in the next icky-looking zit that pops up on your face, make sure it’s the kind that should be popped. Look for a zit that has an obviously raised head; you should be able to see white-colored pus clearly in the swollen bump of skin, says Dr. Hope Ricciotti, practicing physician and coauthor of “The Real Life Body Book.” Pop the pimple with a sterilized needle and exercise care when squeezing out the pus. Swiping the pus away with your bare fingers might actually allow bacteria to get into the open pimple, which could make the infection worse.

Related Videos




University of Maryland Medical Center: Acne
The Real Life Body Book; Dr. Hope Ricciotti and Monique Doyle Spencer Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm?; Perry Romanowski

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