How to Heal a Popped Pimple Scab

6 Steps to Heal a Popped Pimple Fast

So you popped a pimple that was driving you crazy. (Yes, 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.

This article will discuss how to quickly get your popped pimple to heal. It will talk about various at-home treatments that will help soothe your popped pimple and avoid any scarring.

how to heal a popped pimple

Verywell / Emily Roberts

Don't Continue to Pick at the Pimple

First things first: You must 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, even if the blemish develops a whitehead again. Don’t pick at the scab. Let your skin start the healing process without being interrupted. As your skin heals, keep your hands off of it.

If that's hard for you, there are small stickers called hydrocolloid sheets that may help. These are bandages that trap moisture and keep dirt and excess oil away from your popped pimple.

Gently Clean the Blemish

If you’ve just recently popped the pimple, go ahead and give it a good cleansing now. You can use your regular facial cleanser for this as you’re washing your face. Be gentle, though, and try not to knock off 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. Again, don't aggressively rub at it or disrupt the forming scab.

Although lots of people suggest cleaning a popped pimple with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, those can sting. They also aren't as effective as witch hazel at reducing inflammation.

Apply Ice If Swollen

If you've really gone to town squeezing at a blemish, you probably have a big, swollen, red bump on your face right about now. Ice is the best way to soothe it down and reduce inflammation.

Use an ice cube or cold pack, either wrapped in a soft cloth or paper towel. Apply it over the swollen area for a few minutes at a time, several times a day. This will help take down the swelling and make your popped pimple look and feel a whole lot better.

A warm compress may help too.

If your popped pimple isn't swollen and already has formed a scab, icing the area won't do anything, so you can just skip this step.

Dab on an Antibiotic Ointment

Treat your popped pimple like an open wound, because that's basically what it is. An over-the-counter antibiotic ointment is your best friend.

Dot a tiny 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 a 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 the skin around it (especially if it's on your face). Antibiotic ointment may clog your pores, so you want to keep it just in the area where it's needed.

Continue Using Your Acne Treatments

If you're using any over-the-counter (OTC) acne products or prescription acne medications, you should continue to do so. Most acne medications have antibacterial properties that should be helpful in getting the pimple to heal.

If you treat your popped pimple well, it should heal within a few days. Try to be patient until this happens.

Summary

If you need to heal a popped pimple, there are several things you can do.

Avoid touching the scab so it has time to heal. Apply a small amount of witch hazel on the scab several times a day. Use your normal facial cleanser to keep the area clean.

If the area is swollen, you can apply ice or a warm compress. Continue using your acne treatments. You can also use an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to help heal your popped pimple.

A Word From Verywell

The best way to avoid facial scarring is to never pop your pimples. Popping a pimple increases your risk of developing acne scars, and can make acne worse. But we're all human, and most humans occasionally pop pimples. Still, try your very best not to squeeze your blemishes.

If you have an overwhelming need to pop, pick, or squeeze your blemishes, to the point of causing damage to your skin, talk with your doctor. You may have a specific type of acne called excoriated acne. Your healthcare provider can help you get the treatment you need.

Also, if you aren't a compulsive picker, but still need help getting breakouts under control, you should give your doctor a call. There are prescription medications that can help you clear up your acne.

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3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Thring TS, Hili P, Naughton DP. Antioxidant and potential anti-inflammatory activity of extracts and formulations of white tea, rose, and witch hazel on primary human dermal fibroblast cells. J Inflamm (Lond). 2011;8(1):27. doi:10.1186/1476-9255-8-27

  3. Zaenglein AL, Pathy AL, Schlosser BJ, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016;74(5):945-73.e33. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2015.12.037

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