The Dermatologist-Approved Way to Pop a Pimple at Home

Most of the time, you'll want to leave those bad boys alone, but if you must play dermatologist, this step-by-step guide will help you avoid enlarging, infecting, or scarring your blemish.


There is nothing more distracting than a giant zit. Whenever a glaring red spot shows up on our face, the OCD suddenly kicks in, and we can’t stop ourselves from compulsively staring at it, touching it, and trying to cover it. Our insecurities skyrocket, as everyone we encounter seems to be blatantly staring at the unsightly growth. Immediately after the emergence of a new pimple, our mission is clear: Banish that sucker immediately.

And yet we all know better than to pick at a zit that isn’t “ready” for termination. Dermatologists warn that if we get overzealous, we risk causing cuts, infections, and scars. Fortunately, there is a step-by-step, foolproof method to safely getting rid of pesky blemishes without making the problem worse.

First and foremost, when it comes to pimples, timing is everything. This is the most critical and excruciating part: Do not try to pop your pimple before it is ready to be cleared. By poking and prodding at a zit before a firm, white head is visible, you’ll further irritate and damage the surrounding skin. Though your pimple may seem huge at the start, it’s only going to magnify and become more obvious if you act too early.

The time to remove your pimple is when you see a clear, white head emerging from the top. This means that the pus is now at the surface of your skin and ready to be drained. Here’s what to do next:

1. Thoroughly wash your hands with disinfecting soap to eliminate bacteria and avoid contaminating the open wound. Once your hands and nails are completely clean, dry them using a fresh towel or tissue.

2. It’s important to also clean the zit. Use a cotton swab to apply rubbing alcohol onto the pimple. This will disinfect, soothe, and prepare the little monster for extraction.

3. Take a fresh cotton swab in each hand and get ready for the extraction. Do not try to squeeze it with your fingernails, as this is an easy way to cut yourself. Using the cotton swabs, press down on opposite sides of (not directly on) the white head. You may feel a moment of slightly piercing pain, then the pus should easily come out. If it’s not quickly excreted, the pimple isn’t ready to be removed, so don’t try to force it. Instead, give the pimple more time and resist the urge to tinker.

4. If pus does come out, you’re almost free and finished. Clean away any discharge with a new tissue, and apply more alcohol to the deflated zit. This may sting, but you’ve officially gotten rid of the blemish without leaving behind any scars, and you will see it disappear in a day or so. Congrats, you know how to properly pop a pimple! And check out these other surprising home remedies for acne, so you’re always armed and ready to target those spots.

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