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What to Do After You've Popped a Pimple

So, You Popped That Zit. Now What?

We're excited to present this article from Allure!

You've done it. And you can't un-do it. You popped your zit and now you're left with the aftermath—which if you're not careful, could get even uglier than the original whitehead. In this modern age, there are products especially made for post-popping, like the new overnight Clean & Clear Popped Pimple Relief Drying Paste—but you probably already have the tools to handle this situation in your beauty arsenal. To see more, just keep reading.

About the popping: Hopefully, you held a warm compress against the area to soften the plug beforehand, covered two fingers in clean tissues to avoid spreading bacteria, and applied only gentle pressure so as not to destroy the surrounding healthy tissue. (Not that we're telling you how to do this, because it's a super-bad idea.) But again, if you did it already, do this now:

  1. Disinfect the area with an antibacterial solution like benzoyl peroxide.
  2. Apply any acne product that contains salicylic acid to zap the remaining wanna-be zit. (Salicylic acid is the active ingredient in Clean & Clear PPF, but it's also in most zit creams, like those by Bioré and Neutrogena.)

If you did this right, it should dry up and heal on its own. You shouldn't have an acne scar, but you might have a red mark that just refuses to quit. If you have acne-prone skin, scrubbing away to get to a fresh layer is not smart. Instead, try a chemical approach. We like Peter Thomas Roth Gentle Complexion Correction Pads; the glycolic acid promotes cell turnover, and there's salicylic acid in these too, which, again, can discourage any plans the zit has about coming back. Or you can try applying a drugstore or prescription cortisone cream a few times a day, for no longer than a week.


If you didn't follow the unofficial popping rules, and you ended up with a bloody mess, try treating the zit like the wound that it now is. After following the first two post-pop tips, dab on some Neosporin, and cover with a Band-aid overnight. Don't make a habit of this; it's just for this one wound, this one time. Because you're never going to do this again, right?

More stories from Allure:
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The four most outrageous looks from Milan Fashion Week

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
tawnyinthepink tawnyinthepink 5 years
I've 'popped' pimples and and have the 'aftermath'. This is what I know, popping pimples when they are at skin level (which mean you can see the head) isn't going to leave a scar. You only need to be sure to 'pop' it once to get the 'head' out then apply some sort of clearing cream. I'm 34 years old, I still get pimples ans knock on wood don;t have any scarring. 
hazelberry hazelberry 6 years
@wolpackgal Not an instant solution (like putting a clean icepack or splash cold water on the popped zit) but try looking into anti-inflammatory things such as drinking chamomile tea for a while...I'm sure there are more tips out there on this.
wolfpackgal wolfpackgal 6 years
What do you use to make it less red? I have so many red marks from popped pimples, that stick around for weeks!
CaraSmith CaraSmith 6 years
Eww!!!! I hate zits. It's important to prevent them. My friends and I like the Yes To Tomatoes Daily Pore Scrub ( Keeps our skin clear ;-)
Mippi Mippi 6 years
Actually, I find that Neosporin works great for pimples that have drained on their own, as well. Just make sure to clean the area first and then dab on the Neosporin; it hydrates the area and keeps it from becoming infected. It's nifty.
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