So you popped a pimple and want to heal it fast with minimum to no scarring? This step-by-step guide will help you reduce the bleeding, redness, swelling and healing time of a popped pimple at home.
The first thing is to stop feeling bad about popping a pimple. Popping a pimple when it is ready can actually reduce the healing time and bring fast relief.
Step 1: Wash up
If it is bleeding, keep rinsing it with plain cold water until the bleeding stops. Once the bleeding has stopped or reduced considerably, wash the wound with your regular face wash that does not have any skin-irritating ingredients like benzoyl peroxide / glycolic acid / salicylic acid.
Step 2: Warm compress
If blood continues to ooze out, take a clean piece of soft material like a T-shirt or toilet paper. Bunch it up to make a small ball. Blow into it some warm air from your mouth. Then gently place the warm cloth on the wound.
This will not only help with the pain (moist heat), but will also help the bleeding to stop (compress). The moist heat method is often used in India to soothe little bruises on babies and children. I’ve used it on pimples and found it pretty effective.
This is not the same as a hot compress, such as a cloth heated in the microwave etc. Hot compresses can cause more redness and swelling.
Don’t use cotton for this step since fibres from it will come off on the wound and stick to it as the blood starts to clot. Then you will have to pull out the fibres from the wound, which may cause it to bleed again (not good).
Step 3: Prevent infection
At this point, you might be tempted to apply an antibacterial cream such as Neosporin or Polysporin or Soframycin. What you are dealing with is a wound, so it makes sense to apply an ointment that will help with healing.
What you cannot forget is that this wound is on acne prone skin. Even though it is often advised to apply Neosporin on a popped pimple, the base of Neosporin has been known to cause breakouts.
Also, Neosporin and other topical antibiotics can cause skin irritation and swelling. This irritation and inflammation may prolong the hyper pigmentation (dark down / redness) left after a pimple.
If you do want to apply Neosporin or Soframycin, only apply the tiniest amount directly on the cut and dab off any extra. This will ensure the ointment does not spread to nearby areas and clog pores.
Step 4: Keep it moist
Research shows that keeping a wound moist and covered heals it faster. It reduces pain and also helps to reduce scarring.
You don’t necessarily have to apply a strong antibiotic cream. The idea is simply to keep it moist.
Vaseline is commonly suggested as a way to keep a minor wound moist, and it works. But acne-prone skin does not always agree with it. If Vaseline does not cause breakouts on you, that’s great because it is gentler than an antibiotic ointment and has been shown to heal wounds faster.
Just to be clear, we are talking about Vaseline pure petroleum jelly, not Vaseline lotion or cream or anything else.
A safer, and possibly more effective way to keep this minor wound moist is aloe vera gel. The problem with aloe vera gel is that it evaporates fast, unlike Vaseline, so you need to keep applying it over and over.
My current pick is Aloe Veda Aloe Vera Gel. I’m not happy about the artificial green colour and strong artificial smell in it, but other Indian brands aren’t any better. You might also apply cucumber gel. Brihans makes one.
Aloe vera gel or cucumber gel will help to reduce redness of the popped pimple as well.
Step 5: Cover it up
The next step is to cover the wound up with a soft gauze bandage or a small, round Band-aid. This is in accordance with the research we saw in the previous step about covering up a wound to make it heal faster.
Covering up the wound ensures that it stays moist. You can do this step before going to bed. Just in case that the gum from Band-aid clogs pores or irritates the skin, a plain white gauge may be used. If you apply a generous dab of ointment, then place the folded-up gauge, it will most likely stay that way.
Step 6: Keep hands off
Try to keep your hands off the wound, since that may cause infection and also irritate the area. Use a mild face wash to clean the area until the wound heals.
Don’t apply ice to a popped pimple, as it can send the skin into shock, causing more redness and inflammation. Ice method is only for when you sense a cystic pimple surfacing in the initial stages.
The prequel to the pop
If you popped a pimple before it was “ready”, you will notice that within the next day or so, more pus forms at the same spot. You can know if the pimple wasn’t ready to be popped if the white head did not cover the whole area of the pimple – that is, there was a white head surrounded by swollen, red area around it – like a volcano. (I will cover this in a future post about how and when to pop a pimple.)
So, if a pimple is popped manually or it bursts accidentally before it is “ready”, it will continue to come to a white head again and again until all the infection is either drained out or has dried up. This will cause repeated wounding at the site of the pimple and can not only prolong the healing, but also cause scarring and purple / brown hyper pigmentation.
Disclaimer: All these steps, although in alignment with research and experience, are by no means a guarantee. Try them at your own risk and use common sense.