I Confess: Picking Pimples

Ever since I was a teenager, I've had occasional pimples, but I expected them to go away once I reached my twenties. No go: even though I don't have acne in any kind of chronic form, the pimples and blackheads that crop up on my skin from time to time are nothing short of a serious nuisance. 

On their own, periodic spots aren't that big of a deal — most people are too concerned with what's happening on their own faces to do a close-up inspection of anyone else's — but that doesn't stop me from turning into a complete lunatic when my skin bubbles up with a blemish. A painful, prominent pimple is more than a distraction for me, it becomes an obsession.

Even though nearly everyone knows that picking at pimples can irritate the blemish even more, possibly leave scars, or spread the acne to other parts of their skin, some of us can't help ourselves: in the face of a pimple, we pop and we poke and we pick and we make things so much worse.

I'm something of a skin-picker myself, and the bad habit only gets worse when I'm anticipating some kind of special occasion and feel an inordinate amount of pressure to impress someone. A few weeks ago, I was inspecting my face in the mirror just hours before a boy I'd met out of town earlier this year was supposed to arrive in New York to visit me. My skin was having a particularly good day: it was smooth and glowy and even, except for one totally distracting thing: there was a rather deep blackhead near my lip. I couldn't help myself. I ravaged it senselessly, and as a result, totally maimed the surrounding skin. Disaster! But actually, not at all. Since I'm a goofball and incapable of keeping things to myself, I pointed it out to him as soon as we met, and he just teased me about my self-mutilation before reassuring me that he could barely tell, and he didn't care.

Even if your blemishes don't truly look all that bad, they can still do a number on your self-confidence. The best way to treat a bit of acne is to it dry out with a spot treatment that lists salicylic acid as a main ingredient. You can also choose a two-birds-one-stone product that conceals the blemish while treating it. Always use clean tools when applying product to your pimples.

Of course, you probably already know all of this, and it still doesn't alleviate the need to pick. The best thing you can do is to try to distract yourself: take a walk, call a friend, cook some dinner — anything that'll keep your hands busy and your mind off that damned spot. If you still want to go to town, why don't you actually just go to town and get a facial? If you have somewhere to be later on that day, opt for a gentle treatment over a more heavy-duty extraction service to prevent additional redness.

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