Squeezing pimples causes scars: True/False?

There seem to be two kinds of people in the world. There are those who, upon spotting a zit (sometimes even if it belongs to somebody else) feel compelled to squeeze it. Then there are those who are content to leave well enough alone. The prudent course of action is, it turns out, to resist the urge to squeeze because it does increase the risk of scarring. But that’s not the whole story.

Where do these scars come from in the first place? Well there are several different kinds of acne scars, but all we really need to know is that the culprit is inflammation. Inflammation is a natural immune response but it also interferes with the orderly healing of the skin, so should be avoided if possible. Squeezing pimples, or even wearing clothes that rub them, can aggravate the inflammation, or make it last longer, and that can lead to scars.

Some people seem able to pop pimples around the clock, while others are very prone to scarring no matter how careful they are. There is probably some deep and interesting reason behind this, but, as I noted once before, research about the causes of acne is thin on the ground, no doubt because spotty teenagers don’t call the shots on medical research grants boards. Spotty teenagers do grow up, though, and once they have a mortgage and disposable income, those who bear the scars of acne want something done about them. It’s no surprise that medical research is more focussed on eliminating existing acne scars than on getting their life stories.

We do know that some people are just more susceptible to inflammation caused by acne. Medicine takes a pragmatic approach. If your acne shows a propensity to scar then doctors will generally aggressively treat it to keep the acne, inflammation — and ultimately the scars — to a minimum.

Squeezing pimples does increase the chance of scarring and nobody is entirely immune. If you are a squeezer beware, the next one may be a zit too far. And then, boy, will your face be red!

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