Should You Leave Pus Filled Pimples?

Have you ever wondered what to do when faced with a pesky pimple filled with pus? It’s a common dilemma that many of us have encountered at some point. Do we leave it alone and hope it goes away on its own, or do we take matters into our own hands and pop it? In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of both options, giving you the insight you need to make an informed decision when dealing with those unsightly blemishes.

Why Do Pimples Become Pus Filled?

Bacterial infection

Pimples become pus filled when they become infected with bacteria. Bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes, which is commonly found on our skin, can enter the hair follicles and cause inflammation. When the hair follicles become clogged with excess sebum and dead skin cells, they provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to thrive. The body’s immune response to the bacterial infection results in the formation of pus within the pimple.


Inflammation plays a significant role in the formation of pus filled pimples. When the hair follicles become infected, the body releases white blood cells to fight off the invading bacteria. This immune response triggers inflammation and causes the pimple to become red, swollen, and painful. The accumulation of dead skin cells, bacteria, and white blood cells leads to the formation of pus, creating the characteristic raised, yellowish bump on the skin.

Excessive sebum production

Excessive sebum production also contributes to the development of pus filled pimples. Sebum, the oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands, helps lubricate and protect the skin. However, when there is an overproduction of sebum, it can combine with dead skin cells and bacteria, clogging the hair follicles and forming pimples. The excess sebum creates an environment where bacteria can proliferate, leading to an increased likelihood of pus formation.

The Pros of Leaving Pus Filled Pimples

Self-healing mechanism

Pus filled pimples are a sign that your body’s immune system is actively fighting off the infection. Leaving them alone allows the body’s natural self-healing mechanism to run its course. The pus is a result of the immune response targeting the infection, and its presence indicates that the body is actively working to resolve the pimple.

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Avoiding scarring

By allowing pus filled pimples to heal on their own, you can minimize the risk of scarring. Picking or squeezing the pimple can cause the bacteria and infected material to spread to surrounding areas, potentially leading to more severe inflammation and scarring. Allowing the pimple to heal naturally reduces the chances of long-lasting marks or blemishes on the skin.

Preventing further infection

Pus filled pimples should be left alone to prevent the spread of infection to nearby areas. Picking or popping the pimple can introduce new bacteria or infect the existing bacteria deeper into the skin, which may lead to more extensive infections. Allowing the body’s immune system to take control of the healing process helps contain the infection and prevents it from spreading and causing further complications.

The Cons of Leaving Pus Filled Pimples

Delayed healing

One of the drawbacks of leaving pus filled pimples untreated is the potential for delayed healing. Although the body’s immune system is actively working to heal the pimple, it may take longer for the inflammation to subside and for the pus to naturally drain. This can prolong the overall healing process and result in the pimple lasting longer than desired.

Increased risk of scarring

While leaving pus filled pimples untouched can help minimize the risk of scarring, there is still a chance that scarring may occur. The presence of pus indicates an active inflammatory response, and if the inflammation is severe or persistent, it may lead to the formation of scars. Each individual’s skin reacts differently to inflammation and healing, so it is important to consider this potential risk when deciding whether to leave a pimple alone or seek treatment.

Spread of infection to nearby areas

Leaving pus filled pimples untreated increases the risk of infection spreading to nearby areas of the skin. When a pimple is disturbed through picking or squeezing, the bacteria and infected material can be forced deeper into the skin, potentially causing the infection to spread. This can lead to the development of new pimples or even more severe skin infections.

Factors to Consider in Pimple Treatment

Severity of the pimple

The severity of the pimple is an essential factor to consider when deciding on the appropriate treatment approach. Mild or moderate pimples may only require self-care and home remedies, while severe or persistent pimples may require medical intervention. Assess the size, redness, pain, and overall appearance of the pimple to determine its severity and the type of treatment needed.

Individual skin type

Different skin types react differently to pimple treatment methods. Oily skin may benefit from certain topical treatments or cleansers, while sensitive skin may require gentle and non-irritating products. Consider your skin type when selecting treatment options to ensure they are suitable for your specific needs and won’t cause further irritation or complications.

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Presence of other skin conditions

If you have other underlying skin conditions, such as rosacea or eczema, it is important to take them into account when treating pus filled pimples. Some treatments may aggravate certain skin conditions or interact with prescribed medications. Consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional to ensure the chosen treatment is safe and appropriate for your specific skin condition.

Methods for Proper Pus Filled Pimple Treatment

Gentle cleansing

Gentle cleansing is an essential step in pimple treatment. Wash the affected area with a mild, non-abrasive cleanser to remove excess oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells. Avoid harsh scrubbing or using products with harsh ingredients, as they can further irritate the skin and worsen the inflammation. Pat the skin dry with a clean towel instead of rubbing to prevent additional irritation.

Topical spot treatments

Topical spot treatments that contain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid can help to reduce inflammation, kill bacteria, and unclog pores. Apply a small amount directly onto the pimple, following the product instructions. Be cautious with the use of spot treatments on sensitive or dry skin, as they may cause dryness or irritation.

Warm compress

Applying a warm compress to a pus filled pimple can help reduce inflammation and promote natural drainage. Dampen a clean washcloth with warm water and gently press it onto the pimple for a few minutes. Repeat this process a few times a day to encourage the pimple to drain naturally. Be sure to sanitize the washcloth after each use to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Professional extraction

For large, painful, or stubborn pimples, it may be necessary to seek professional assistance for extraction. Dermatologists or licensed skincare professionals can perform a controlled extraction using sterile instruments to drain the pus from the pimple. This should only be done by professionals to minimize the risk of complications, such as scarring or introducing further infection.

When You Should Leave Pus Filled Pimples Alone

If they are small and not causing discomfort

Small, isolated pus filled pimples that are not causing any discomfort or pain can often be left alone to heal naturally. As long as they are not increasing in size, redness, or becoming more painful, they can be left to resolve on their own.

When nearing natural drainage

If a pus filled pimple is nearing the natural drainage stage, where the pus is close to the surface and appears ready to be released, it is generally advisable to leave it alone. Avoid picking or squeezing the pimple at this stage, as it may disrupt the natural healing process and increase the risk of scarring or further infection.

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During the healing process

Pus filled pimples that are in the healing process, with reduced inflammation and the formation of a scab, should be left undisturbed. The body’s healing mechanisms are at work, and interfering with the process by picking or squeezing the pimple can lead to complications and prolonged healing time.

When You Should Seek Professional Assistance

For large and painful pimples

If you have large, painful pus filled pimples that do not seem to be improving or are causing significant discomfort, it is recommended to seek professional assistance. Dermatologists or skincare professionals can evaluate the pimple and provide appropriate treatment options, such as prescription medications or in-office procedures.

If the pimple persists or worsens

If a pus filled pimple has been present for an extended period or is worsening despite self-care measures, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional. They can assess the pimple, determine the underlying cause of the persistent infection, and recommend more effective treatment options.

If there are signs of infection

If a pus filled pimple shows signs of infection, such as increased redness, warmth, swelling, or the presence of a fever, medical attention should be sought immediately. A healthcare professional can evaluate the infection, prescribe appropriate antibiotics, or perform necessary procedures to prevent the spread of infection.

Precautions to Take during Pimple Treatment

Avoid harsh squeezing or picking

To prevent further complications and potential scarring, it is essential to avoid harsh squeezing or picking of pus filled pimples. The pressure and force exerted can force the infected material deeper into the skin, prolonging the healing process and increasing the risk of infection.

Maintain cleanliness

Keeping the affected area clean is crucial in pimple treatment. Wash the area gently with a mild cleanser and avoid touching the pimple with dirty hands. Regularly change and wash pillowcases, towels, and other items that come into contact with the affected area to minimize the spread of bacteria.

Keep hands off the face

Touching your face frequently can introduce bacteria and dirt, potentially worsening the infection or causing new pimples to form. Resist the urge to touch or pick at pus filled pimples and keep your hands away from your face as much as possible.

How to Prevent Pus Filled Pimples

Regular facial hygiene

Maintaining a regular facial hygiene routine is crucial in preventing pus filled pimples. Cleanse your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser suitable for your skin type. Avoid overwashing or using harsh products, as this can strip the skin of its natural oils and lead to increased oil production and clogged pores.

Balanced diet and hydration

A balanced diet and proper hydration play a significant role in maintaining healthy skin. Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to provide essential nutrients for skin health. Drink an adequate amount of water to keep your body and skin hydrated, which can help prevent excess sebum production and clogged pores.

Avoiding excessive makeup

Excessive use of makeup or using products that are heavy and comedogenic can contribute to the development of pus filled pimples. Opt for non-comedogenic and oil-free cosmetics that won’t clog your pores. Remember to remove your makeup thoroughly before bed to allow your skin to breathe and prevent the buildup of bacteria.


Pus filled pimples can be a common nuisance, but understanding the factors behind their formation and considering the pros and cons of leaving them alone is crucial in deciding the best course of action. While leaving them to heal naturally is generally advisable for small and non-bothersome pimples, seeking professional assistance may be necessary for larger or painful ones. Practicing good skincare habits, maintaining cleanliness, and being cautious during pimple treatment can help prevent the development of pus filled pimples and promote healthier skin overall. Remember to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional for personalized advice and tailored treatment options for your specific situation.