4 Warning Signs You’re Addicted To Pimple Popping


The American Academy of Dermatology reports that by the mid-teen years, over 40% of people will have some form of acne or acne scarring.

Chances are, you stumbled on this article by no mistake. Like many teens and adults, you want to know if you are addicted to popping pimples, and we’re here to help you recognize the signs and break this bad, but common, habit once and for all!

(Read: 7 ways to sabotage your skin)

Here are four signs that your preoccupation with pimples runs more than skin deep:

1. You see things that aren’t there.

Okay, maybe not in the most literal sense. Sure, there might be a slightly clogged pore on your nose, but it isn’t as bad as you think. That little black dot may even be a freckle, but you aren’t entirely convinced. Not until you get a closer look in your 10x magnifying mirror and give it one experimental squeeze, just to be certain.

2. You can’t resist touching acne prone areas to feel for bumps.

You know where your breakouts occur. You know these areas so well because your fingers are familiar with grazing over them every few hours, minutes or even seconds to search for tender spots or slightly raised blemishes that could feed your desire. When you don’t find blemishes, you aren’t entirely convinced and feel the need to dig deeper. (Keep in mind that touching your face with dirty hands could cause more acne.)

3. You cause flare-ups to become worse.

Sometimes you don’t have to search for acne because it appears on its own. When this happens, your pimple popping obsession goes into overdrive and you attack. Often times, what started out as a small blackhead, whitehead or cyst turns into an eruption that may or may not scar. You might be convinced that what you’re doing will shorten the lifespan of this particular breakout; this is never the case.

4. You feel guilty after popping or trying to pop pimples.

Once the deed is done and the temporary satisfaction wanes, you start to regret digging into your face. You know that there are better ways to handle acne, but you just can’t help yourself. You vow to stop popping pimples but, before you can finish the thought, you notice something else cropping up next to the last one.

While it may feel temporarily relieving, albeit painful, to pop pimples, the fact is that you’re probably causing more harm than good. Manually extracting, or popping pimples, can lead to increased inflammation, scarring and the spread of bacteria under the skin. This can cause even more blemishes, thus perpetuating the cycle.

(Read: The MB acne spot treatment cheat sheet)

Some tips to break the cycle:

  • Treat existing breakouts with acne products. For example, the Drying Lotion was designed to help dry up existing whiteheads while the Drying Cream is excellent at combating those under-the-surface bumps and pimples.
  • Don’t spend unnecessary time in front of the mirror.
  • Find a good quality concealer to cover blemishes.
  • Relieve anxiety in a different, more constructive way.
  • Hold yourself accountable.

Are you obsessed with popping pimples? What are your tips for having a hands-off policy?

Author: Sara Kosmyna

I'm a freelance writer, makeup artist and brow expert with nearly ten years of professional experience in the beauty industry. Eating healthy, trying new beauty products and writing personal essays are a few of my favorite things. I can usually be found roaming the magazine aisles of bookstores or sitting at the café compulsively shopping online for shoes, books, clothes, and makeup. If I went to the gym as often as I talked about wanting to start exercising, I would have a 12-pack by now. I believe that having a good skincare regimen and expertly groomed eyebrows are two cornerstones to being naturally beautiful.


  1. This article seems like it was written for me! i’m so guilty of trying to find, and pop blemishes. And I feel that immediate guilt right after and vow never to do it again. Not to sound cliche’ but it wasn’t until I seriously looked into Mario Badescu products and decided to rely completely on them, and not use my fingers that I’m starting to be happy with my skin, and leaving all blemishes alone!

  2. Katelyn,

    I’m so happy this article resonated with you, and you’re able to let your blemishes be finger-free!

  3. Pingback: Why Do We Poke & Pop Our Pimples? | Mario Badescu Skin Care Blog

  4. This is me as well. Right now my bathroom light is taped down so that I don’t have the opportunity to examine my face in harsh light in front of the mirror. There are signs taped to it that say “leave it alone and it will get better” right at eye level when I walk in.
    unfortunatel my bad habit is finding ways out despite the lack of a mirror.

  5. Wow, this really applied to me. It’s difficult to realize every time that picking ends up creating more zits. I thought that not many people had this bad habit! I find teeny, tiny blackheads, and look for anything on clear skin, and instigate the problem. It takes me days of not touching to eliminate the newly inflamed pores. I feel bad for my skin, but it’s easier to talk about stopping than actually doing it.

  6. I used to suck at sticking to a skin care regimen and obsessive popping definitely exacerbated the issue. Every trip to the bathroom involved the usual bathroom business and a full face check for offended pores. It caused a lot of grief, and a lot of money spent on concealer- which ultimately didn’t work because I would dig in so hard I’d scab and scar afterward.

    I would definitely add cutting your nails to the list of things to prevent yourself from popping. I did this to stop myself from expressing inflamed pores and added a super easy (and effective!) skincare regimen, and have seen a dramatic reduction in acne. Albeit the face checks still happen and sometimes I just can’t resist, but the simple truth is that there’s less there for me to mess with now that I’ve cut my nails and added a cleansing routine!

  7. I have had this problem for ten years now, no joke.
    I have tried so many products that it has affected my skin’s natural oil balance making my skin unnaturally dry.

    Every product seems to work for the first couple of weeks but then a massive breakout occurs and I attack.

    I’ve evengot to the point where I have to cover the mirrors in my room with sheets to avoid breaking down.

    Exercising tends to make me feel a lot better about myself but seeing as I live in a very hot climate by the sea with extra pale skin I need to put a ton of sunscreen on.

    Even when I think my skin is getting better the sunscreen causes a massive breakout resulting in attack mode.

    If I dont put the sunscreen on I get severe sunburn and swelling which eventually results in its own breakout.
    (I’ve also tried all the sensitive sunscreens and natural stuff but it doesnt make a difference)

    Seeing that when Im at home in the middle of the day is my main picking time I cant avoid going outside to the beach or running.

    The picking problem occurs on my face mainly but also my upper arms and legs.

    It is so groteque that people tend to avoid me because it looks like a disease.

    It mainly occurs when I’m feeling depressed or anxious. It is closely tied with a lack of self esteem.

    I cant afford help like a therapist.

    suggestions? WHAT DO I DO?

    • Max, we’re sorry to hear that you’ve been experiencing this level of distress. Our blog is intended for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition. It may help for you to speak with someone trained to help with this issue. We hope to hear back from you that you have resolved this issue.

  8. I am chronically addicted to popping my pimples, some times I would be popping my pimples for half an hour in front of the mirror ending up with blood covered hands and still feel unfulfilled

    • Jill, I don’t think this topic should be used for “entertainment”. It’s a serious issue for a lot of us. I attacked my face so bad I’ve left bruises. Will your do an article on the entertainment of cutting? It’s sad this is the first page to come up when googling addiction to pimple popping. I will be sure not to buy your products and ensure no one I know does as well.

  9. This is me 100%. I have to work really hard to dissuade myself from doing damage to my face. When my skin looks perfect, I will find something wrong with it. The worst thing I ever bought was a comedone extractor because I could use it to extract the most microscopic of clogged pores. I have thrown it in the garbage because I knew I was only making things worse with it. I have used my knuckles to pop an imagined zit that was not there, and left bruises on my face. Obsessive picking is like any other deliberate self-harming behavior and is just as bad as cutting. Right now, I wear a tinted moisturizer, keep my nails short, and have thrown out my comedone extractor and magnifying mirror. I avoid looking at my face, and have noticed that most of my previous acne was caused only by picking. I now occasionally have, if anything, a small spot that resolves itself within 24 hours. I regret all the days I’ve spend holed up in my house because I had torn up my face due to a tiny spot.

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