1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

How To Heal a Popped Pimple

Heal a Pimple That You've Picked, Popped or Squeezed

By

Updated June 19, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

You had a pimple that was driving you crazy.  So you popped it (yeah, you know you shouldn’t pop pimples but sometimes you just can’t help yourself.)  Now, instead of a pimple, you have an angry red sore, or a dry crusty scab.

We’ve all been there.

I’m not going to chastise you for pimple popping, because that would make me a total hypocrite.  I think everyone has been a pimple-popper at some point.

Besides, what’s done is done.  Now, you just want to know how you can heal that popped pimple, and fast!

Here’s what to do:

1.  Don’t pick at it anymore.

First things first, you have to allow the popped pimple to heal.  That means no more messing with it.  Don’t squeeze it to see if any more will come out.  Don’t pick at the scab.  Let your skin start the healing process without being interrupted.

2.  Clean it well.

If you’ve just popped the bugger, go ahead and give it a good cleansing.  You can use your regular cleanser for this as you’re washing your face.  Be gentle, though, and try not to knock of the scab that is trying to form.

You can also use a touch of witch hazel on a cotton ball or swab.  Carefully dab the popped pimple with this solution a few times a day, at least until a good scab forms.

Although lots of people suggest cleaning a popped pimple with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, I don't recommend either of those.  They sting like crazy!  I much prefer witch hazel.  It can help knock out inflammation as well.

3.  Ice it down.

If you've really done a number on your skin, you might now have a big, inflamed, red bump on your face.  Use an ice cube or cold pack, either wrapped in a soft cloth or paper towel, and ice it down.  This will help reduce the swelling and make your popped pimple feel better.

If your popped pimple already has a scab, and it's not swollen at all, icing the area won't do anything so just skip this step.

4.  Treat it with antibiotic ointment.

Now, you're going to treat your popped pimple like an open wound, because that's basically what it is.  And what's the best way to treat a wound?  Over-the-counter antibiotic ointment is your best friend.

Dot a small amount directly on the popped pimple or scab.  This will help speed up healing time.  It also keeps the scab moist, so it won't look as dry, crackly, and obvious.

Keep the picked-at pimple covered with a small amount of ointment until it's fully healed.  This can take a few days.

Also, make sure you're only covering the pimple, not a quarter-sized area around it.  OTC antibiotic ointment may clog your pores, so you want to keep it just on the area you need it.  You only need a tiny dab.

5.  Don't pick at the scab!

It can be tempting, but don't give in.  You need that scab to stay put for your pimple to heal. 

If you're a bona fide picker, do your best to keep your hands off of your face.  Again, keeping the scab covered with healing ointment makes it less appealing to pick it off.

6.  Continue using your acne treatments.

If you're using any OTC acne products or prescription acne medications, you should continue to do so.  Most acne medications have antibacterial properties, so that in itself may be helpful in getting that pimple to heal.  And it helps prevent pimples so we aren't put in a pimple-popping predicament in the first place!

Remember, if you treat your popped pimple well, it should heal up nicely within just a few days.  Try to be patient until this happens.

Next steps:

Now that you've got this popped pimple healing nicely, let's keep your skin feeling good.  Here are some ways to get rid of that pimple safely and gently, without resorting to popping.

Breakout 911: How To Heal Pimples Fast

Help! I Have a Big Pimple That Won't Go Away!

OTC Spot Treatments

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Acne
  4. Basics
  5. How To Heal a Popped Pimple

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.