How to Use Microlet Lancets to Properly Pop a Zit, According to Dermatologists (and Drew Barrymore)
Drew Barrymore recently posted a video to Instagram showing fans how she gets rid of "maskne" at home, and her go-to tool gets the stamp of approval from skin experts.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we're not only dealing with the isolating effects of quarantine and social distancing, but also with the results of extended mask wear, including "maskne" (the newfound term for the breakouts caused by face coverings). And if your skin has been revolting against you more than usual—whether you're experiencing dryness, annoying pimples, or even rosacea or psoriasis flare-ups—you're not alone. Even celebrities like Drew Barrymore are sick of it.
The 45-year-old actress and Flower Beauty founder recently took to Instagram during her infamous beauty junkie week (a week where she discusses her beauty routine and reveals her favorite skincare products, which are all crazy affordable) and posted a video showing fans exactly how she pops a zit. “Can you see that? This is like all I have been getting. It’s such an undergrounder. Maskne!" Barrymore says into the camera, sharing a close-up of her mask-induced pimple for all to see.
So what's a girl to do about pesky maskne? Barrymore seems to have the solution as she pulls out her trusty go-to for popping zits—and no, it's not her fingers. She unveils a box of tiny, colorful lancets, and we are kind of shocked at just how small and unassuming her tool of choice is. "They make popping so fun," Barrymore says, as she whips out an orange lancet.
What exactly is a lancet? It's a tool with a super thin needle on one end—which is small enough to ensure no damage is done to the skin, if used correctly—that you use to pierce your pimple to relieve blockage. To use, hold the lancet parallel to the skin, and gently prick the zit in a horizontal motion, with as little pressure as possible. Whatever you do, don't poke or drag the lancet in a downward motion, since this could cause scarring. Unlike using your cumbersome, germy fingers to push, press, and prod the area of inflammation, lancets won't cause damage or trauma to the skin.
Popping your maskne with a lancet, is not the worst idea if a visit to the dermatologist absolutely can't wait, experts say. In an office visit, your derm would use a sterilized needle—very similar to a single-use lancet—to pierce the pimple, and follow up with a comedone extractor (a tool with little loop at the end to remove the inside of your zit) to finish the job, explains Mona Gohara, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at Yale.
"This is the safest way you could [pop a zit] at home," Rachel Nazarian, MD, a New York-based dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, tells Health—but it's still not perfect. "It’s incredibly difficult to find the correct angle of insertion to open the [zit] on yourself, and very difficult to remove the contents without damaging the skin," adds Dr. Nazarian. Barrymore, herself, discourages her viewers from aggressively digging into the pimple with the lancet, but rather taking a light and delicate approach for a graceful pop.
If you feel it in your bones that you absolutely must pop this zit at home using a lancet, Dr. Gohara encourages you to make sure your skin, hands, and the tip of your needle are clean. "No one needs infection drama right now," she says. After the procedure, take your cue from Barrymore's second Instagram video and ice the area. "This decreases the chance of infection and improves the inflammation that she probably induced with the pressure and poking," notes Dr. Nazarian.
Of course, the best way to combat maskne is to prevent it in the first place. Remember to wash your mask after daily use. "Be diligent about nightly acne medications that can prevent breakouts over time," advises Dr. Nazarian. And if needles aren't your thing, consider hydrocolloid pimple patches ($16 for 96-count; amazon.com): "[These] can help dry them up and shrink them up quicker without the same risk of scarring," says Dr. Nazarian.
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