How to Heal a Popped Pimple Scab

6 Steps to Heal a Popped Pimple Fast

Woman squeezing pimple
B2M Productions / Getty Images

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

Time to heal that popped pimple, and fast. Try these tips to help minimize the damage done to your skin, and get that painful sore well on its way to healing.

1. 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 white head again. Don’t pick at the scab. Let your skin start the healing process without being interrupted. As your skin heals, hands off.

2. 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 and aren't as effective as witch hazel as reducing inflammation.

3. Apply Ice If Your Popped Pimple Is Swollen

If you've really went 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.

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.

4. 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.

5. Leave the Scab Alone

It can be tempting but don't mess with the scab. You need that scab to stay put for your pimple to heal. Each time the scab is removed, the healing process has to start all over again putting you back at square one.

If you're a bonafide picker, do your best to keep your hands off your face. Again, keeping the scab covered with a healing ointment makes it less appealing to pick it off.

6. Continue Using Your Acne Treatments

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

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

A Word From Verywell

The best-case scenario is that you don't pop your pimples ever.

But we're all human, and most humans occasionally pop pimples.

Still, try your very best to not squeeze at your blemishes. Popping pimples increases your risk of developing acne scars, and can make acne worse.

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

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

Either way, follow the steps to help healing take place and next time try your best to leave the blemish alone. It really is the best, and safest thing to do for your skin. But, if you really must extract a blemish, these tips will help you do so safely.


"Questions and Answers About Acne." National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). Jan 2006. National Institutes of Health.

Zaenglein AL, Pathy AL, Schlosser BJ, Alikhan A, Baldwin HE, et. al. "Guidelines of Care for the Management of Acne Vulgaris." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2016; 74(5): 945-73.