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Squeezing Pimples

Should I or shouldn't I? The correct answer to this is "No, but....".

The debate even among doctors goes on about how much damage is done by squeezing pimples, and whether or not there are any circumstances when it is ok. I think there definitely are circumstances when the benefits outweigh the risks, and some major damage to your self-esteem and future can be done by NOT squeezing!

When is this?

  • When you have a major pimple in a prominent place and it cannot be covered it up or ignored, by you or other people.
  • When the stakes are at their highest regarding other people's impression of you, or how you want to remember a special occasion.
  • When you have a big event, especially an event that photos will be taken for keepsakes, say a prom or a wedding.
  • When you are having a job interview, or meeting someone important for the first time and their first impression of you counts.
  • When you have a major meeting with clients and a lot of money is at stake.

Under these circumstances, the effects and memories will go on for a long time, maybe forever.

There definitely are risks to squeezing pimples, ones that may affect you days afterwards, or may even leave scars. And the risk is that you may make your face look worse after squeezing than before, so if you absolutely, positively have to go the squeeze, make sure you know what you are doing and do it right!

Firstly, you have to know what you are dealing with. It is an enemy which is mostly hidden, you only see the head of the beast. What is going on below the surface is that bacteria are filling up the pore and doing all sorts of  crazy things, including breaking down the wall of the pore. And this is where most of the problems with squeezing occur.

Think of it like this: Think of a concrete well and you are seeing the top of it. The well is full of a foul liquid, increasing in volume, that is rising up out of the well but is held in place by a soft plastic dome lid. This liquid has a chemical content that can dissolve the concrete walls. But you don't know just how much of the wall has already begun to break down or how vulnerable to pressure it is.

So, to release the liquid in the proper direction (out of the well), one must break the dome lid and let it out. Squeezing it out from the sides requires quite a lot of pressure to break this lid and in the meantime, you will be breaking the walls, allowing the foul liquid to infiltrate into the area around it. Not solving the problem at all, and maybe making it much bigger.

Ok, so back to pimples. How can you break the lid? Exfoliating regularly keeps this membrane from forming or getting too thick but this is more in the prevention and cleaning aspect of skin care and not useful in a crisis. In these cases, something more direct is needed. Below are the steps to emergency procedures for dealing with a zealous zit.

  1. Shower and clean your skin, both on your face and your hands.
  2. Have everything you need laid out and ready to use.
  3. Wipe the local area with an anti-bacterial or medical alcohol swab.
  4. Your hands need to be clean! You could wear latex gloves or wrap your index fingers in gauze or tissue so you're not actually touching your skin with the tips of your fingers. Don't use bare hands,there are many germs lurking under the nails which are impossible to remove. If they make it into your pimple wound, a whole other type of hell occurs.
  5. Pick up your sterile needle or lancet. Diabetic lancets are available at most pharmacies and are a single-use item meaning they are clean when you remove the cap and thrown away after you use it once. If you must, semi-sterilise a sewing needle with a flame and anti-bacterial wipe. This is a second-best option.
  6. Hold the tip of the lancet right at the centre of the protruding pus and prick just the top. Don't go deeply into it.
  7. There may be a lot of pressure inside the pimple and the pus begins to emerge on its own. Take a new anti-bacterial wipe or swab and gently remove this pus at the surface,  sort of lifting/wiping only in one direction and using a new swab every time you wipe. This is so that you're not putting the bacteria back into the pimple.
  8. Once the white pus has stopped coming out under its own steam, you may need to coax it further. Starting a fair way out from the centre of the pimple, past the red and swollen area, use your covered index fingers to gently push down on the skin. Keep working gently, moving in a circular way and gradually getting closer to the centre. Only use as much pressure as is required to push a little bit of pus out at a time. Each time, use a new swab to remove this as before.
  9. You will know when to stop as the colour of what comes out changes from white and thick to a clear and runny substance, or even blood.

10.  If you are having to use a lot of pressure, then the pimple was not ready to go and continuing this path will definitely make the area look and feel a lot worse. So stop squeezing.

11.  Once finished, apply your prescribed topical anti-biotic cream. Or dab tea-tree oil with a cotton bud to the new wound to prevent re-infection.

12.  If the area is swollen, apply a cool compress or hold an ice-cube on it to help reduce swelling and redness.

13.  Apply concealer or make-up as required

Congratulations! Whilst there may be some pimple problems again in a few days, right now you slayed the beast. Seize this moment and make the most of it by really enjoying the event you are attending. Remember that the best memories and photographs are the ones in which you are smiling and laughing because you're having a great time.

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