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Pimples are red, swollen bumps on the skin that can sometimes be painful. Popping and picking at pimples can lead to scabbing. Without proper care, this could lead to infection or scarring. Good skin care and topical treatments can help prevent them.
They most often affect the face, neck, chest, and back. Pimples can affect anyone at any age.
Keep reading for information on how to treat pimple scabs and prevent them from occurring in the future.
Scabs are the body’s way to protect itself.
Scabs protect wounds from infection and allow the skin underneath to heal. However, sometimes, the process does not work as well as it should or as fast as someone would like.
The following are some steps a person can take to help speed up recovery or avoid aggravating a pimple scab:
Avoid touching the area
Similar to not picking at or popping a pimple, a person should not pick the scab on the pimple.
Picking at the scab can reopen the wound, which can allow bacteria or other foreign bodies to enter.
If this occurs, the pimple can become infected. Picking, popping, or otherwise unnecessarily touching a pimple or scab can also delay healing time. It may also lead to scarring in some cases.
The scab on the pimple can become dry over time.
To keep the area moisturized, a person can try applying certain moisturizers. However, there is no guarantee that these will do anything to speed up the process of healing.
Some safe options may include moisturizers that contain:
- tea tree oil
- aloe vera. Learn about using aloe vera to treat acne here.
- light moisturizers that do not contain oil and are noncomedogenic
Many acne moisturizers are available to buy online.
Apply a bandage
A bandage can help protect the area from further damage.
However, before applying a bandage, a person needs to make sure that the area is clean. We discuss how to achieve this in more detail below.
Keep the area clean
A person should gently wash the area with a gentle cleanser at least once daily, and any time it gets dirty.
If the area is not clean, it may take longer to heal and may become infected.
Following these tips can help keep the area clean:
- Use a warm, moist compress.
- Use gentle soap and warm water.
After washing, a person should dry the area completely. Patting the area works best to avoid accidentally scraping the scab off. Avoid rubbing the area dry.
A person does not typically require medical intervention to treat a pimple scab.
However, if it becomes infected, a person should see their healthcare provider for treatment. Signs of infection include:
- worsening redness or swelling at the site of the pimple
- fever or chills
- warmth or hotness in the area
- worsening pain or discomfort in the area
- pus coming from the wound
If a person has an infection, they will likely receive oral or topical antibiotics.
The best way to prevent a pimple scab is to avoid popping, picking at, or otherwise touching the pimple once it has formed.
Instead, a person should take steps to effectively treat the pimple before it forms a scab. Preventive measures are key. For example, a person should always follow their prescribed acne treatment regimen.
This will usually include topical retinoids or treatment options such as oral or topical antibiotics, topical benzoyl peroxide, combined oral contraceptives, or spironolactone (off label).
A person can also take other steps to help reduce their chance of developing pimples. These include:
- washing the face, neck, back, and chest once or twice daily
- keeping the skin moisturized
- using oil free noncomedogenic products on the face
- avoiding rubbing the face or exfoliating
Pimple scabs typically occur because a person picks open or pops a pimple. They should not pick the scab open, as this can lead to scarring or infection.
To prevent this, a person can take steps to prevent getting pimples and should avoid picking at or popping their pimples.
If a scab forms, a person should try to keep the area clean and avoid touching it unnecessarily.
Topical treatments may help treat acne, but a person should not apply these to pimple scabs.
People should see a doctor if they think they may have an infection.