A photo of Sandra Lee MD aka Dr. Pimple Popper pretending to pop a pimple

How To Pop A Pimple Properly (According to Dr. Pimple Popper, Herself)

Of course she doesn't want you to. But if you're going to, here's how to keep it from looking like a crime scene.


2 minute read

Our founder, Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper) has become well known for her pimple-popping prowess. But promoting the practice at home isn’t part of the plan: in fact, Dr. Lee urges people to resist popping, because it can end up doing more harm than good. 

But let’s be real: sometimes, you just can’t help yourself. So here are Dr. Pimple Popper’s guidelines for how to safely pop a pimple at home (you’re welcome). 

    Why popping pimples isn’t a good idea

    Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s review exactly what could go wrong. Here are a few of the potential consequences of a popping session:

    Dr. Pimple Popper's Picks

    How to extract a pimple safely

    While there are no guarantees, sticking to these tips from Dr. Lee can help you avoid those common popping pitfalls.

    Tip #1 Cleanse thoroughly

    Wash your hands and wash the affected area with warm water and a gentle face wash, like SLMD Salicylic Acid Cleanser. Use cotton and alcohol to clean the treatment area and to disinfect what you are using to extract the pimple, like our stainless steel, medical grade Comedone Extractor

    Tip #2 Steam it to a head

    Only extract your pimple if it has come to a head, meaning you can see a white/yellow area in the center. This is technically called a pustule, and it means that your inflammatory pimple is very superficial. If you try to squeeze out a pimple that’s still deep, you’re more likely to cause damage to the surrounding tissue.

    To encourage your pimple to come to a head, try gently pressing a clean, warm washcloth against the area for a few moments. This will also soften the contents, making it easier to extract.

    Tip # 3 Squeeze gently

    Place the preferred loop of your sterilized comedone extractor over the pimple and apply slow, even pressure to push the contents of the pimple out. If you don’t have an extractor, try wrapping your sanitized fingertips in clean tissue.

    No matter if you’re using a tool or your fingers, take care not to over squeeze. Doing so will damage the surrounding tissue, which could lead to more inflammation — or even force the pimple’s contents deeper into your skin, creating more acne. 

    Tip #4 Spot treat

    If the pimple is not popping, don’t keep trying to force it. As Dr. Lee always says, Know when to pop, and when to stop. Step away from the magnifying mirror and try again the next day, if you must — but your pimple should heal on its own just fine.

    Once a pimple has been popped, keep the area clean and let it heal properly to avoid scarring. Apply a clean, cold washcloth against the area and dab on a pore-penetrating beta hydroxy acid product like SLMD Skincare Salicylic Acid Spot Treatment. You can also protect it with an acne patch like Salicylic Acid Piimple Patches. This will help soothe inflammation and inhibit further bacterial growth.

    Dr Sandra Lee

    Dr. Lee's Last Word

    Please: try to resist popping your pimples! It’s best to let them heal on their own. But if you can’t help yourself, just remember to use very clean hands and tools, and always be very gentle. Know when to pop, and when to stop!


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