Blemishes are a
fact of a life for many people, and getting them to disappear as
quickly as possible is a top priority. However, since most pimples will come and go within a week, the blemish itself is only half the problem. The dark red or purple mark
left from picking at it incorrectly can linger for months. Since this
scarring interferes with the quest for even-toned skin, the goal should
always be to heal a zit in the least invasive way possible. Here are my
expert tips for the safest way to get rid of a blemish while causing the least
amount of damage to the skin.
Assess The Blemish
When a blemish appears, don’t touch it. Instead, observe it and determine what type of blemish it is. Pustule-type blemishes (the only
squeezable kind where the whitehead comes to the surface) usually take at least one to two days to get to the surface. Cysts (the non-squeezable kind that
stay as a bump until your body reabsorbs the infection) will eventually go back
down in a week or two. It is only safe to extract a blemish if, and only if, a
visible whitehead appears on the very surface of the skin. Picking a blemish
before it’s ready is an absolute no-no, as it can damage the surrounding tissue
and make the infection worse.
Wrap Fingers In Tissue
If a whitehead appears on your blemish, use one piece of tissue per hand,
doubled over and wrapped around each forefinger. The forefingers have the best
control when squeezing and the tissues provide padding for your fingers so that
you don’t get nail marks or damage skin. As an added bonus, they are hygienic and disposable.
Position Your Fingers
Start with your fingers in the 3 o'clock and
9 o'clock positions. The key to squeezing is that you want to get under
the blemish, so try not to squeeze on the top. Keep fingers a bit
outside of the blemish so that you create mild pressure from underneath to encourage the infection to pop out. Squeeze slowly at first to see if anything comes
out. If the whitehead is on the surface and is truly ready to come out, it will.
Next, position your fingers at a different angle, such as 2 o'clock and 7 o'clock and
repeat. Then position them at two new angles. Stop
trying after three attempts — or as I say, “three strikes and you’re out.” If
nothing comes out after a few attempts, it means it was not ready, and the blemish should have never
been touched in the first place.
After You've Popped It
If pus does come out, apply a spot treatment to help dry and draw out any remaining infection. Look
for treatments that use ingredients such as camphor, zinc, and sulfur. Note: You
should only apply a spot treatment after the infection has been removed, never
before. Applying a drying treatment the moment a blemish appears will dry out the skin without reaching the infection. Then, when you try to squeeze the whitehead, you will pull off dry, flaky skin, leading to more post-breakout scar trauma.
Apply A Fading Treatment
Regardless of whether you picked at the
skin or not, a small scab is inevitable because the skin's surface breaks when the infection comes out. Even after the scab is
gone (usually a week or so after squeezing the whitehead), it’s normal to still be left
with a post-breakout dark mark. Applying a brightening, exfoliating and fading gel is extremely effective for getting the mark to fade more
quickly and the blemish will soon be a distant memory.
thought: Cystic acne (the deep, hard, sore blemishes that develop deep within
the skin and can linger for weeks) should never be squeezed because they rarely ever come up to the surface.
They both develop and heal deep within the skin. Instead, use a product
developed exclusively for spot treating cystic blemishes. With a little
patience and the discipline to keep your hands off your face, you’ll have
noticeably clearer, more even-toned skin in no time.