At any given time, your face could be covered in white heads, black heads, clogged pores, or deep-rooted cysts. And when they appear, we know just how tempting it is to want to pick these blemishes to try to make them go away.
But here's why you shouldn't: Popping a pimple that's not "ready" to be popped just sets you up for a slew of not-so-pretty problems like scabbing, scarring, and possibly a skin infection. And when you squeeze a zit that's still cooking, "you actually spread the pus out at the bottom so you're creating more inflammation," says Jody Levine, M.D., national medical director and co-owner of AOB Med Spa.
If you absolutely have to touch, there is a way to do it, says Levine. Start with clean skin and clean hands. Put your index fingers on either side of the pimple and push with equal pressure—but do so gently. Reposition fingers to the other sides and try again, pushing underneath the zit. If it hurts and nothing comes out easily, it's not ready.
You could also leave it up to the professionals. If you have a particularly large pimple that just won't budge, dermatologists can extract it with a tool that puts equal pressure around it. Still...ouch.