When a scab forms, your skin is doing its job of repairing damaged skin cells. Sometimes, despite your skin’s best efforts, this process can lead to scarring and even infection. If you’re struggling with these blemishes, here’s how to heal and protect a popped pimple scab.
Clean and Apply a Warm Compress
Ideally, it would be best if you cleaned the area as soon the pimple pops to prevent any dirt and any surrounding sebum or dead skin. But that doesn’t mean using rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, which kills skin cells, dries out the area, and causes more damage. Use a gentle cleanser like micellar water to remove dirt. You may also notice that the damage has inflamed the area. Using a clean towel and warm, not hot, water can help soothe the area.
When a scab forms, you may want to try and remove the dead skin that starts to dry and help it flake off by exfoliating– do not do this! This is one of the most common exfoliating mistakes and won’t help your skin cell turnover rate like you think it will. It will only cause more damage.
Resist the Urge To Keep Touching
Even if you think there’s more gunk to get out of your zit, resist the urge to keep touching. The same goes if a scab has already formed– the more you pick, the more your skin thinks it needs to create tougher skin to protect you and form a scar. Unfortunately, skin picking is a compulsion for many people and is a tough habit to break. You can cut your nails, avoid looking too closely at the scab in the mirror, or use the next step to control picking.
Apply an Occlusive Moisturizer
Your skin’s protective barrier, which holds moisture and repairs damage, is partially composed of fatty lipids. Typically, moisturizers are jam-packed with these lipids, and applying a thin layer over the open wound or scab can amp up the healing process. You can look for ingredients like petrolatum, mineral oil, or lanolin. Don’t worry if these ingredients usually make you break out, as you’ll only put it on a small, damaged area. Although, if these ingredients do tend to make you break out, you may want to avoid putting this on at night when you’ll be unknowingly rolling around and spreading it across your face.
Cover With a Blemish Patch or Bandage
Covering the spot with a blemish patch or bandage can keep your skin’s natural moisture locked in place all day long; just remember to change the bandage every eight hours. Putting a bandage or patch over the area can also help resist active or subconscious picking. You’re much less likely to mess with it if you can’t see or feel it. And if you want an extra boost of acne-fighting power, you can use a hydrocolloid bandage to suck up any remaining pus while protecting the wound.
Fortunately, healing and protecting a popped pimple scab is easy as long as you keep the area clean and avoid picking. Remember, the average skin cell turnover rate is about 45 days, so don’t expect it to completely heal overnight. Give your skin the time it needs to heal, and you will see results.