What Is Better to Use on a Popped Pimple: Alcohol or Peroxide?

Use benzoyl peroxide on popped pimples.

Photo: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

Sometimes, it’s hard to resist popping a pimple. Each time you look in the mirror, your eyes are drawn it -- its white, little head staring back at you, almost begging to be squeezed. Given enough time, you know full well that the pimple will clear on its own, but the urge inevitably gets the best of you, and you end up popping it. This often begs the question of what to do with a pimple once it's been squeezed. It's always better to use peroxide than alcohol.

Popping Pimples

Before getting into why to use peroxide over alcohol, it’s important to at least touch on the reasons why you should leave blemishes alone. First and foremost, popping a pimple can push the infected material deeper into the pore. This can lead to inflammatory skin conditions, such as nodular or cystic acne. The pressure caused from squeezing a blemish can also damage the underlying tissue of your skin, making scarring much more likely. If that’s not enough, picking a pimple prolongs its healing time.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Instead of swabbing the pimple with rubbing alcohol, pat a little peroxide on the skin. Benzoyl peroxide is one of the main ingredients in most over-the-counter acne creams. It’s also found in some prescription preparations. Benzoyl peroxide not only kills bacteria, but it also sloughs dead skin cells and dries excess oil -- two factors often associated with breakouts. It won’t worsen your skin condition like alcohol might.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is listed as a skin irritant. It may be fine to clean out minor cuts or abrasions, but you’re not dealing with a normal wound. With acne, irritants can aggravate your skin, thereby worsening your breakout. Putting rubbing alcohol on the popped pimple may kill the bacteria, but it could worsen your complexion.

Skin Care

As you care for your popped pimple, continue to maintain proper skin care. This can help prevent additional breakouts. Wash the skin with a gentle cleanser and follow with a light layer of over-the-counter acne cream along acne-prone areas of your skin. Besides benzoyl peroxide, acne creams containing salicylic acid or resorcinol may be of benefit.

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