Woman picking spot on skin in mirror

How to stop picking your spots, according to Dr Pimple Popper

When a spot rears its red, inflamed head, it can take all your energy to avoid picking it. Thankfully, Dr. Pimple Popper has some sage advice to speed up the healing process and keep your fingers away from your face. 

Whether you’re a die hard fan of #pimplepopping videos or you quickly scroll past every time one crops up on TikTok, when it comes to your own face, it can be ridiculously hard to resist the urge to pick a spot. Problem is, once you start, you can quickly end up causing more damage than you started with.

Take it from the woman that turned spot-picking into a spectator sport Dr Sandra Lee, aka Dr. Pimple Popper whose hugely popular product line SLMD Skincare has just launched in the UK. Even she believes that – outside of the dermatologist’s office – spots are best left well alone. 

“I absolutely say that you shouldn’t pick at your spots,” she tells Stylist. “I don’t want people to pick at their skin and create scars or infection and a lot of the time, picking pimples just makes it worse. Of course, I know we’re all human and some people are still going to do it so I think my responsibility is to first teach people why they shouldn’t but also when is the best time to pick if you just can’t help it.”

So to pick or not to pick? “That depends on how superficial the pimple is,” Dr Lee explains. “The deeper into the skin, the more likely you are to cause trauma and the higher risk you could cause a permanent scar or infection.”

Your best bet is to simply funnel all your energy into not picking. Granted, that’s way easier said than done which is why we asked Dr. Pimple Popper to share her easy-to-follow guide to all the things you can do to stop yourself from picking a spot. Read on for her handy advice.

You may also like

Maskne: how to avoid acne and blemishes while wearing a face covering or mask

1. Use a spot treatment

Dr Lee’s first piece of advice is simple: use a spot treatment. “We’ve all found ourselves mindlessly picking at our skin, but if you put a dollop of a spot treatment like the SLMD Sulfur Lotion, £30 on it, it’ll remind you that you’re not supposed to be picking.”

As the name would suggest, SLMD Sulfur Lotion contains antibacterial sulphur to slow down the reproduction of acne-causing bacteria and stop the area from producing so much sebum. “Sulphur is brilliant for minimising blackheads, whiteheads and inflammation,” Dr Lee adds. “You can use it all over or as a spot treatment.”

SLMD Skincare Sulfur Lotion
SLMD Skincare Sulfur Lotion

2. Try a pimple patch

“If a spot treatment isn’t enough to stop you, you might want to try a little hydrocolloid band aid as it’ll not only help to keep your hands off it, it’ll help to heal the area too,” Dr Lee recommends.

Rather than rocking up to your Zoom meeting with an obvious plaster on your cheek, look for a spot patch or acne sticker. Usually no larger than a 5p coin, these tiny patches help to protect the area and soothe even the angriest of spots. Plus, being hydrocolloid in nature, they are designed to draw the fluid out from the spot, which – in theory – speeds up the healing process.

The Stylist beauty team can personally vouch for Starface Hydrostars, £11.99. Not only are these tiny star-shaped stickers efficient spot protectors, they make you smile every time you catch sight of yourself in the mirror.

Starface Hydro Stars are hydrocolloid pimple patches
Starface Hydro stars

3. Apply a warm compress

“The reason that spots come to a head, interestingly, is because your own body creates white blood cells as a way of pushing the pimple out. That’s why you might see pus come to the surface,” Dr Lee explains. “You can increase the speed of that somewhat by using a warm compress to help encourage the pus to rise to the surface and get the spot out of your body more efficiently.”

Simply heat up a flannel with warm (not boiling!) water, gently press it against the spot and hold it there for around ten minutes. 

4. Rethink your routine

Picking spots may be off limits, but treating them to spot-curbing skincare ingredients isn’t. “Choosing products that suit the type of spot you’re working with is really important,” Dr Lee says. She already flagged sulphur as a great remedy for blackheads, whiteheads and inflammation and praises salicylic acid for its ability to give “pores a deep clean and prevent blackheads and whiteheads from forming.” 

5. See a dermatologist

If a large spot is really bothering you, then seeing a dermatologist might help, although bear in mind, it’ll cost you. “As a dermatologist, we can inject the area with a little bit of low potency steroid to help calm the area down more quickly which can usually resolve a big pimple within around 24 hours.”

SLMD Skincare is available to buy from slmdskincare.co.uk, prices start from £26.

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: Getty/ courtesy of brands


Share this article

Recommended by Shannon Peter


How to avoid acne and blemishes while wearing a face covering

They’re now mandatory in shops and supermarkets.

Posted by
Lucy Partington

The ultimate guide on acne scars and hyperpigmentation on darker skin

Including the products that can help.

Posted by
Kiran Meeda

Which spots mean what? A dermatologist explains what they really mean

Welcome to face mapping 101.

Posted by
Chloe Burcham

9 clever face stickers that will help treat and heal breakouts

They’re perfect to wear underneath your face mask, too.

Posted by
Stylist Beauty Team