Whiteheads are pus-filled acne pimples caused by a buildup of skin oils and dead skin cells. Before you do anything, you should try to treat and prevent them. Popping acne may result in scarring, so it is best to avoid popping any blemishes you find on your skin. However, if you can’t resist the temptation to just pop them, you should do it in a way that will reduce your risk of developing scars. After you pop your pimple, don’t forget to start the healing process right away.
Determine if your pimple is a whitehead. Look for a white or off-white area at the tip of your pimple. If the base of your pimple is red, you should notice the head right away. If you don’t see this white pus-filled head, don’t try to pop the pimple. You could damage your skin and cause an infection. The whitehead itself is already an infection, and popping it could lead to more inflammation.
- If your pimple is big and painful, give it a few days to develop a head. For a slightly quicker fix, apply warm compresses for about five minutes. Repeat every 3 to 4 hours for a day or two.
Wash and disinfect your face. Use warm water and your regular facial cleanser. Move in an upward circular motion until all dirt and makeup have been removed. Blot most of your face dry. Follow up with antiseptic or toner for acne-prone skin. Blot the liquid on to the area without rubbing. Leave the whitehead moist to keep your skin supple.
- Avoid scrubbing your pimple or otherwise rubbing too hard. You could end up causing inflammation and spreading pus and bacteria to other places on your skin.
- You can use rubbing alcohol if you don’t have antiseptic for acne-prone skin, but don’t make a habit of it. Rubbing alcohol can be overly drying to your skin.
Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Work up a good lather and rub your hands together long enough to sing the “Happy Birthday” song. Pay special attention to your fingertips, which will be in contact with the whitehead. If you can, scrub under your fingernails, too.
Wrap your index fingers in tissue. This will prevent your fingernails from puncturing your skin. Do this even if your nails are short. Aim for one facial tissue or table napkin for each finger.
Disinfect a sewing needle. Be aware that popping a whitehead with a sewing needle is not recommended by dermatologists or members of the medical community, so this is something to try at your own risk. If you want to do this, then use a regular needle from a typical sewing kit. It’ll be sharp enough to get the job done and minimize the risk of scarring. Soak the tip of the needle in rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide for one minute.
- You can also hold the tip of the needle over the flame from a match or lighter before dipping it into the rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
Prick the surface of the whitehead. Insert the needle at an angle. If you poke the needle in a vertical downward motion, you could hit live skin under the pus. Remove the needle as soon as you see pus oozing from the whitehead.
- If you see clear liquid or blood instead of pus, stop. Squeezing a whitehead that isn’t ready to be popped can cause it to swell and stick around even longer.
Squeeze the whitehead gently. Place each of your index fingers at the base of the white area. Squeeze in a down-and-in motion. Be gentle to avoid damaging healthy skin. Gently wipe away the pus with the tissue on your finger. Replace the tissue with a clean one to avoid infecting your skin. Continue until all the pus has drained.
Steam your skin. Fill a saucepan about halfway full with water. Bring the water to a boil. Remove it from the burner and let it cool down for a few minutes. Place a body towel over your head and hold it out with your hands to make it form somewhat of a tent. Lower your face toward the saucepan enough to feel the steam. Allow the steam to hit your face for about five minutes.
- This step is easiest if the whitehead is on your face or neck. If you try it with a whitehead on your back or shoulders, it’s really awkward.
Stretch the skin on the whitehead. After you wrap your index fingers in tissue, place them on either side of the whitehead. Pull gently outward. At this point, it might begin to pop. If it does, you’ll have less squeezing to do. Simply wipe away what comes out. Replace the tissue to avoid spreading germs