Almost three-quarters of women and men in the United States have had acne at some point in their lives. Even though acne’s most strongly associated with the teenage years — and their surge of androgenic hormones — you can develop acne at any age.
Women, especially, are prone to acne breakouts as they grow older. Sometimes, they develop acne for the first time after menopause. And,because of widespread use of masks to control the spread of COVID 19, women and men of all ages are susceptible to a friction-caused form of acne informally known as “maskne.”
As embarrassing as acne can be, trying to remove acne lesions by yourself or picking at your acne will only make it worse and may cause complications. At Specialists in Dermatology, with offices in Houston, Texas, or The Woodlands, Texas, our team of expert dermatologists wants to keep your skin acne-free but also healthy. Here’s why you should never pick at acne.
Even though picking at your acne gives a sense of momentary control, as you try to restore your skin to being pimple- and cyst-free, that’s just an illusion. When you pick at lesions, you actually make them look worse.
The skin around the picked lesion may become red and inflamed, which makes the pimple look bigger. Your popped pimple could bleed or develop a scab. In other words, what was once just a single pimple has now developed into an angry, red region. And, strictly speaking, your pimple’s still there.
You might think that popping a pimple forces the contents outward, and it does. But the force of popping also pushes the lesion’s contents inward, toward the inner layers of your skin. An acne lesion is usually already filled with bacteria, which feasts on the oil and dead skin in the lesion.
When you pop or pick at the pimple, the bacteria is forced down into the follicle that created it. The follicle ruptures from the pressure, so the bacteria spills into your skin. You may then have an inflamed and painful region, because of the bacterial infection.
Popping pimples and picking at acne causes trauma and increases your risk for scars. Your skin needs to be handled gently so that it can thrive and stay healthy.
When your skin is traumatized, it tries to rebuild itself. But if the damage is too severe, your body can’t create enough collagen to create normal skin again.
That’s why acne scars are often depressed or pitted.Those pimples that would normally disappear on their own with time now become scars that are with you for the rest of your life, unless you undergo specialized treatments to improve them.
Even if the trauma of picking and popping doesn’t create pitted scars, you can create another type of scar that’s related to pigment changes. In other words, you may create dark spots on your skin, known as hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation is caused by inflammation. Popping or picking at a pimple or cyst creates inflammation. The inflammation then forms a dark spot on your skin. Eventually, the lesion is gone, but the hyperpigmented spot isn’t.
Hyperpigmented spots and scars don’t go away on their own. By trying to pick away or pop your acne, you risk permanent damage that may take many trips to the dermatologist to improve.
The better choice is to see a dermatologist as soon as you’re troubled by acne. Depending on the type of acne you have, we may recommend a number of prescription-strength medications to resolve and manage it.
If you have an enlarged pimple or cyst, we expertly drain the contents so that they don’t spill into your skin and cause an infection. We may also inject acne lesions directly with medication that can clear them up within hours.
Put your acne into the right hands by getting help from acne professionals. If you’re tempted to pick at your acne, pick up the phone first and contact us at Specialists in Dermatology today. You can also schedule an appointment at the office nearest you by using our online form.