So you couldn’t stop yourself and ended up popping the Mt. Vesuvius of pimples. While it probably felt great to get rid of the pesky bump, there are some things to keep in mind now that you’ve waged war on your skin. “When you squeeze or pick at a pimple, the uncontrolled rupture, and subsequent inflammation, causes damage to the surrounding skin cells,” says L.A. dermatologist Annie Chiu. This makes the area red, irritated and can lead to long-term discoloration or scarring," she says. So instead of racing to slap on some concealer, first, clean your wound to prevent infection by washing your skin with a gentle face wash, like Cetaphil ($8; ulta.com). Avoid cleansers with alcohol or alpha hydroxy acids, as they’ll sting broken skin, says Chiu.
If the wound is still oozing, gently press a damp washcloth against the area for a couple of minutes to help drain it. “Then apply Bacitracin ointment to keep the open wound sterile,” says N.Y.C. dermatologist Joshua Zeichner. Now you can tidy up the battle field by applying a few drops of Visine to the spot to take down redness, says Chiu. Once dry, dab on a concealer that contains salicylic acid to help keep pores clean; we like Clinique Acne Solutions Clearing Concealer ($17; sephora.com). At night, use an acne treatment that contains sulfur. “It won't overdry an already irritated and open lesion like benzoyl peroxide can, and it will decrease the likelihood of discoloration or scarring," says Chiu, who likes Kate Somerville EradiKate Acne Treatment ($24; sephora.com). After two to three days of treatment with salicylic acid in the a.m. and sulfur in the p.m., that spot should be waving the white flag.