I'm a dermatologist and you've been popping your spots all wrong – you're probably making your skin worse

THERE'S no denying it, we've all popped a pimple before.

It's oddly satisfying and sometimes hard to resist, especially when you've got a giant spot growing on your forehead.

But according to experts, we’ve been doing it all wrong. In fact, we’re probably making our skin worse by doing so. 

Dr Aneka Khaira, an aesthetic doctor from Harley Street Dental Studio has been working as a cosmetic dentist and facial aesthetic surgeon since 2012. 

Although it might feel good to pop a pimple, the expert said she’d highly not recommend it. 

She said: “I love being able to help a patient's journey. 


“Every patient who enters the clinic has their own journey whether they are a nervous patient, or lack confidence, or maybe going through certain challenges in life or at work. 

“Seeking treatment, whether this is facial treatments or a smile makeover, can be life-changing and have such an impact on a patient’s life. 

“There's a change within the person and a confidence boost and it is this which inspires me to do it over and over again.”


People may pick their skin occasionally. For example, they might itch a scab or pop a pimple. 

However, occasional skin picking can develop into a chronic behaviour called skin picking disorder, or excoriation disorder, explained skin expert Dr Aneka Khaira. 

People may pick their skin for various reasons. 

Some may feel compelled to remove perceived imperfections, while others pick in response to stress, boredom, or out of habit. 

She said: “There is also a satisfaction related to spot squeezing bringing on the ‘feel-good hormone,’ dopamine.”



Do not pick or squeeze spots, apply spot treatment over the top instead, advised Dr Aneka Khaira.


Don’t reach for the toothpaste, she encouraged.

She said: “This may be a cheap quick-fix that will dry the sucker out, but all that sodium and fluoride is also extremely irritating to the skin.

“You may end up with something worse than a spot!”


  • Those who unconsciously pick their skin may benefit from wearing gloves or adhesive bandages to prevent tissue damage and reduce the urge to pick.
  • Follow a tailored skin regime: cleanse twice a day to remove makeup and impurities from the skin. This can also regulate oil production and clear out blocked pores.
  • Exfoliate once a week
  • Stay hydrated and reduce alcohol and sugar intake. 
  • Use a Retinol product before bed. This will help unclog pores, reduce the formation of blackheads and whiteheads, and calm inflammation.
  • Remove makeup before bed.
  • Hydrofacials, chemical peels, oral antibiotics and hormone treatments can also reduce spots when occurring often.
  • There are products which are helpful in reducing the size, redness and inflammation and speed up your skin's natural healing process. 
  • Salicylic acid is one of the best-performing ingredients for dissolving clogged pores, while niacinamide is also a popular choice, thanks to how it is said to support the skin barrier and reduces inflammation.


Another common mistake people make when they try to get rid of a spot is overusing acids.

But the aesthetic doctor said this is something people should avoid doing as it will strip their skin of natural oils causing excess production of sebum leading to oily skin making it worse.


Touching your face, especially with dirty fingers, is another huge no-no. 

Dr Aneka Khaira said: “Keep your hands, phone and hair away from your face. 

“Too much contact can cause flare-ups. Remember our phones are holding a lot of bacteria.” 


Being too rough with your skin is another error a lot of people make when trying to pop spots. 

The aesthetic doctor explained that scrubbing too hard or using harsh products on your skin can actually worsen acne.


As much as it can be tempting to layer makeup over your spot, this is a bad idea.

Dr Aneka Khaira said: “Don’t apply makeup or concealer over the top where possible. Always remove your makeup before bed. 


  • Best overall – Murad rapid relief spot treatment 
  • Best for under make-up – Aesop control blemish serum
  • Best for preventing breakouts – Efflaclar Duo+. It can be used as a daily moisturiser if your skin is on the oilier side and includes niacinamide, salicylic acid and glycerin to soothe and improve the skin texture. Additionally, if you’re worried about the marks spots can leave behind, this can help to fade scarring too
  • Best for sensitive skin – Medik8 blemish control pads
  • Best for hormonal acne – La Roche-Posay effaclar A.I. breakout corrector

“Cleanse your skin twice a day and apply spot treatment only to the area. Cleanse your skin thoroughly and do not use makeup wipes.”

If untreated, skin picking can lead to painful lesions, bleeding, pigmentation and scars which are harder to treat, and significant psychological distress.


Although it might feel good to pop a pimple, the aesthetic doctor said she’d advise against it. 

This is because popping a pimple can cause infection and scarring, and it may make the pimple more inflamed and noticeable. 

Plus, It also delays the natural healing process. Due to this, it is usually best to leave spots alone.

She said: “If you really have the urge, use a warm compress over your skin, this will loosen and soothe the skin, sometimes causing the pimple to pop by itself. 

“It’s best to wait until there is a white head and treat it as aseptically as possible, i.e wear gloves and a sterile needle to pop just the outer layer. 

Seeking treatment, whether this is facial treatments or a smile makeover, can be life-changing and have such an impact on a patient’s life. 

“If you see bleeding you have gone too deep. Ideally, it's best to leave the popping to a dermatologist.” 

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