It’s basically a given that any day you’re required to have people looking at your face (work presentation, job interview, etc, etc) you will acquire a pimple on said face.
While we know that experts advise against squeezing it (no matter how tempting) sometimes you just can’t resist. For those times when you need to break the rules, we asked three dermatologists the fastest and safest way to get rid of those pesky pimples.
If it’s a blackhead darkening your day, congratulations – you have full permission from the experts to give it a squeeze and get rid of it.
“I always advise using a comedone extractor, which is a metal tool with a little loop that you can get from a beauty shop,” says Dr Jo-Ann See, a Sydney-based dermatologist and spokesperson for the Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD).
“Pop it over the blackhead lightly and it should come out easily. Then clean up with an alcohol swab.” (Watch at your own peril: the blackhead-exploding video. See more on their Facebook. Post continues after video.)
Whether your best bet is to squeeze or conceal depends on how shallow the pimple is.
About to burst.
“If it’s very shallow on the skin and it’s literally going to burst if you wipe your skin and there’s a pustule, then that’s fine to squeeze and that’s the only pimple I would ever you could squeeze,” says Dr Karen Koh, an Adelaide-based dermatologist and ACD spokesperson.
“Making sure you have really clean hands and you just squeeze the top to let the pus out. Then you want to dry it out with something like an alcohol swab or a simple over the counter acne treatment that has either salicylic acid or benzyl peroxide in it. There are plenty of drugstore or over the counter brands with one of those two ingredients.”
While the temptation can be to then smother it in makeup, Dr Koh advises against it.
"Because you potentially have a little wound, it's probably better not to put makeup on the top because it can get inside and possibly cause infection, so if you're actually going to squeeze something it's not great to then put something on top of it. Some of these drying out treatments do have a little bit of tinting in them so you can hide it," she says.
A little deeper.
If the pus is still visible but it's a little deeper, Melbourne-based dermatologist and ACD spokesperson Dr Barbara Breadon recommends you don't squeeze it. Yes, leave it, people.
Again, follow it up with a drying acne treatment. (Post continues after gallery.)
Also known as 'blind pimples', these are those nasty lurkers that don't have a visible head. While you may think the quick fix is to squeeze and squeeze until something is released, you'll only make the situation worse.
"You run the risk of squeezing it inwards and then it blows out underneath the surface, adding pressure to the surrounding tissue and makes everything swell up. It will look far worse and take longer to heal," says Dr Koh.
They will also likely bleed, causing more problems later down the track.
"It's better to use a cold compress. The idea is that you're trying to reduce inflammation so put something cold on it like ice wrapped in cloth to try and bring it down that way," she says.
If you've got until the evening to bring it down, apply a drying acne treatment in the morning to help speed along the process.
"Drying out acne products might bring headless pimples to the point of being squeezed because they are also a little anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial so they will penetrate the skin and help to calm things down," says Dr Koh.
If you haven't picked, you can then conceal. Dr See recommends opting for green concealers to neutralise any redness and setting with a mineral powder.
"They are great for concealing as you can dust it lightly or build up the products as needed," she says.
Worst case scenario.
Got a giant inflamed pimple that you want vanished now but can't handle yourself? If you've got the time and the resources (and can get an appointment), consider a visit to your dermatologist for an injection of medication directly into the skin.
"An intralesion steriod injection is totally safe and a godsend if it's a really deep one as it can calm things down quickly," says Dr See.
Unfortunately, this is not an everyday solution.
"If you're getting umpteenth pimples and it's not just one here and there and you're thinking 'Oh god, what can I squeeze and what can I not?' then you're best to go to your GP and get some prescription strength treatment," says Dr Koh.
Got a story of getting a pimple right before an important event? How did you handle it?