"How exactly does picking at a breakout make it worse?"
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Picking at a breakout can actually be worse for the skin than just leaving it alone. Propionibacterium acne (or P. acne) is a bacteria that lives anaerobically (without O2) in the follicle and feeds on sebum. When the follicle becomes blocked there is no air and plenty of food. This causes the bacteria to multiply and the follicle expands. This expansion causes the follicle to stretch and become thin itself. When the skin is squeezed or picked, you are often creating a wound from the top and pushing everything back into the skin vs. getting underneath and allowing everything to come up and out. Picking or squeezing doesn’t clear the follicle of those bacteria, but rather it causes the bacteria to continue festering (or it even leaks) into the follicle beside it or spills into the dermis, causing nodules, cysts, etc. It may even introduce additional bacteria into the site (i.e. Staph). The best way to clear breakouts is to apply a spot treatment to help oxygenate and clear the skin of bacteria, which speeds the healing process much more than picking does! 

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