Given that you’ve heard all your life, “Don’t pick at your face. Leave your pimples alone!”, you may be surprised that I am encouraging you to pick. Don’t get me wrong, your health and beauty are of my deepest interest here but there is a time and place and I want to discuss that.
Let’s back up a bit, before we get to the extraction…
I’m a huge fan of Dr. Jessica Wu‘s book, “Feed Your Face“, and in that book she shares a story about a patient who came to see her after an overzealous esthetician attempted to extract a pimple. Nothing came out of the pimple but the esthetician did not give up. She continued to squeeze and milk the blemish until the client was in tears. The only result, unfortunately, was to drive the infection deeper. The poor patient now suffered from a huge “underground boil.” The entire side of her face was swollen and her eye was even swollen shut! A trip to ER and one IV full of antibiotics later and the swelling finally went down. Dr. Wu spent months treating the scarring caused by this painful action. Which is why we are told, don’t pick your pimples! Infection and scarring are simply not worth it.
Don’t touch your face. Avoid all mirrors. Count backwards from ten. Keep your hands busy. Hands off! Unless…
With that gruesome story behind us (lesson learned, right?), I’ll admit I pick. I mean, don’t we all (please say yes)? I know it’s bad but sometimes it’s necessary when you have a white head ready to pop. So on with the gross details.
- When you absolutely must take care of the nasty uninvited guest, do it at night so that your skin can begin healing while you sleep.
- Wash your face and hands.
- Clean the zit with rubbing alcohol. Use some of the alcohol to sterilize a needle as well.
- Pierce the surface of your whitehead. Gently squeeze with two Q-tips, not your fingers (remember, we are keeping it clean- the less germs spread, the quicker the recovery).
- Dr. Wu advises that you should just squeeze enough to get the blockage, not to draw blood. Blood means you’ll have a scab and the sore will be harder to cover. Also, STOP if you nothing comes out so you don’t drive the infection deeper like the poor girl in the story above!
- IMPORTANT and likely not known by many, don’t squeeze the zone between the tip of your nose and the inside edge of your eyebrows as this is a “Danger Zone.” Dr. Wu says this, “The skin in this area sits about 1/8 inch above your sinuses, which are connected to your gray matter. Squeeze too hard, and instead of winding up with just a skin infection, you could spread infection to your sinus cavities or even your brain.” Yikes!
- Allow your zit extraction to heal overnight without any acne treatment or drying cream. Cover with a band-aid and go to sleep. Wounds heal better when they are moist and covered. I actually have used antiseptic first-aid creams myself.
Don’t even think about trying to extract ones without a head because you will only make it grow bigger and cause other pimples to pop up around the surrounding area. If you have a deep cyst, apply acne cream hourly or use a warm compress throughout the day to help it head more quickly.
Don’t make picking a habit, use it only when absolutely necessary and it’s clearly a whitehead needing some pressure relief. Keep your procedure sterile and don’t force anything. Following these tips can help your pimple to improve rather than get worse.
Your turn to share (if you dare)…do you pick?