To squeeze or not to squeeze, what do we do about spots being squeezed?

To squeeze or not to squeeze, what do we do about spots being squeezed?

Spots being squeezed 

The subject on today’s agenda is acne and spots being squeezed. I get asked if they should be squeezed a lot, and since I’ve done several extractions this week I felt this is a perfect time to give you a little advice on this. 

What do we commonly do with spots? 

I realise the worst thing in the world is having to walk out the door with a great big whopping white head on your face. Not only does it look bad but it can affect your short term mental health, making it hard to enjoy your day. 

So, what’s the alternative. Often it’s spending 10 minutes in front the mirror squeezing the hell out of said white head, removing all the pus with the hope of making it disappear. In truth, all you do is replace the spot with a massive, inflamed weeping crater that is equally as hard to cover up with makeup. 

What causes a spot?

Spots are caused by several factors, including hormones, genetics and the environment. The most common cause is hormones and acne is often the result of too much sebum production in the skin. In simpler terms, acne is when the pores are clogged with oil and dead skin cells. These clogged pores are called blackheads or whiteheads. The bacteria in the skin then produce an inflammatory response which leads to redness, swelling and pus production.  

In regards to spots being squeezed there’s no real medical benefit, but it’s just so hard to not want to squeeze the hell out of them. 

What can we do? 

So, what sort of spots can we get away with squeezing and which ones do we need to leave well alone? 

  1. If the spot is inflamed, red, painful, has no whitehead leave well alone. All you will do is make that area of your face sore and painful to touch. When I’ve squeezed these in the past, I find myself touching and poking it for hours afterwards to see if it’s weeping or still painful.
  2. Small non-inflamed whiteheads are ok to have a quick squeeze. But make sure your going to go for it, get all the pus out. If it becomes inflamed leave it alone. 

The Method 

Ideally, we want to leave them all alone, but I realise this is near impossible for some, even me sometimes! So, here’s a few little tips to help you out if you’re an avid squeezer. 

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly before.
  2. Cleanse the area. 
  3. Wrap tissue around the end of each finger that will be doing the squeezing or use the ends of cotton buds. 
  4. Place fingers either side of the spot, but not too close together. Almost like you are going to squeeze from underneath the spot. 
  5. Gently squeeze, not for too long, don’t cause too much trauma for the skin, DO NOT draw blood. 
  6. If anything comes out remove from the skin immediately. 
  7. If nothing comes out, walk away, it’s not ready and you will cause more issues trying. 
  8. Wipe over or hold a pad on the area with a tonic or product containing salicylic. 
  9. Do not apply makeup to the area for at least 4 hours. 

Point 9 is very important. Most people try to cover up the area immediately with make up. But your adding dirt and grease back into the wound where the spot was, giving it all the ingredients it needs to regrow. 


When it comes to blackheads, and I mean blackheads not sebaceous filaments (see the difference here) using the same methods, however, use your fingers to push down towards the skin rather than together. And again, if it doesn’t come out after a few attempts (a few not several) leave it to a professional.  


If in doubt see a professional, I can guarantee with most, its our favourite part of our job! So, we welcome extractions a plenty. Thank you for reading, and as ever me or anyone at the clinic are here for any advice, just reply with any questions. 

Are those black dots on your nose really blackheads???

Are those black dots on your nose really blackheads???

Are those black dots on your nose really blackheads???

The quick answer is probably not.

A couple of nights ago I posted a photo on my Instagram of a client’s sebaceous filaments on her nose before and after extractions and asked whether people knew that these weren’t blackheads. I got an astounding response asking to know why they weren’t blackheads. This is a familiar confusion I get on a regular basis with clients wanting to “get rid of the blackheads” on their nose.

So let me tell you a little something about those ‘blackheads’ on your nose…they are not blackheads, they are in fact sebaceous filaments.

And here’s the difference:

Sebaceous Filaments

The nose is one of the places on the face that usually produces the highest levels of oil (sebum). Over time these pores become more enlarged due to the constant production of the sebum and the slow degradation of the skin’s structure reducing the ability to keep them tight. For example, if you look at a child’s nose you won’t see a visible pore, this is because their adolescent hormones haven’t kicked in to start producing higher levels of oils and their collagen is probably the best its ever going to be keeping those pores so tight they are invisible!

Our pores produce sebum as part of the protective acid mantle and to help keep the microbiome healthy, this sebum flows out of the pore onto the skin’s surface. When the sebum reaches the opening of the pore it becomes oxidised and changes from creamy colour to dark grey-black. This is where the mistake in thinking they are blackheads happens.


The technical name for blackheads is open comedones. These can be found anywhere on the face but are usually spread out or maybe just a random one here or there. These are a blockage of the pore/follicle and are caused by a build-up of sebum and skin cells within it. The black colour of them again comes from the oxidisation. If you run your finger across a blackhead you can sometimes feel a slight lump under the skin and these are usually bigger than a sebaceous filament.

So that is the difference between the two, but I know what your next question will be…how do I get rid of them?

So blackheads we can extract and hope they don’t return, this will require actives within the skincare such as salicylic acid or mandelic (always seek advice). But sebaceous filaments, like I said are pores that have a constant flow of sebum from them, they are a natural part of a healthy skins functioning. Also, pores are not doors, so you cant open and close them. What can help improve their appearance is using actives to help control sebum production, such as Retinol, and trying to improve the structure of the skin to tighten them a little…but they will never disappear (this is a good thing).

If you need help with any issues regarding large pores, blackheads or any other concern please get in touch. Even if you are not local to me I can still help virtually. To contact me please either email me here or my book online to see me in clinic or a virtual consultation here.

Thanks for reading.

Rebecca x