I was curious if there was a decision which relates to pimples specifically.

Pimple popping and skin care have become a major topic on many parts of the internet. You typically see people using needle-like devices to puncture and drain the flesh of things which would either naturally heal on their own or don't pose a direct threat to one's health or wellbeing.

I was curious if there was a Rabbinical opinion on the topic as I can certainly see how certain types of pimple pops or removals could result in the scarification of one's skin.

An example being someone who routinely digs into their own skin out of habit to the point where they scar their skin permanently.

  • Other issues include destroying one's beard or chovel on shabbat. – chacham Nisan Oct 21 at 9:34
  • For one thing, popping pimples is generally not a good idea. It's one way to get acne scarring. – ezra Oct 21 at 20:10
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in 169:1 - סימן קסט - אסור כתבת קעקע says:

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם מֻתָּר לִתֵּן אֵפֶר וּשְׁאָר דְּבָרִים עַל הַמָּכָּה לִרְפוּאָה, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיִֹשָּׁאֵר הָרשֶׁם, כִּי גַם מִמַּכָּתוֹ יִשָּׁאֵר רשֶׁם הַמּוֹכִיחַ עָלָיו, שֶׁלֹּא עָשָׂה מִשּׁוּם כְּתֹבֶת קַעְקַע. ‏

Nevertheless, it is permitted to put ashes and other things on a wound for medical purposes, even if a mark will remain; for (in such cases) the wound will also leave a mark, and it will be apparent that you did not do it for the purpose of tattooing.

So it seems permitted to routinely dig into one's own skin out of habit to the point where one scars their skin permanently.

Also in 91:12 - סימן צא - דין מי שיש לו מחוש וחולה שאין בו סכנה regarding Shabbat the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch says:

סעיף יב' הַפּוֹתֵחַ מֻרְסָא כְּדֵי לְהַרְחִיב פִּי הַמַּכָּה, כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהָרוֹפְאִים עוֹשִׂים, שֶׁהֵם מִתְכַּוְנִים לִרְפוּאָה לְהַרְחִיב פִּי הַמַּכָּה, הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב, שֶׁזּוֹ הִיא מְלֶאכֶת הָרוֹפֵא. וְאִם פְּתָחָהּ רַק כְּדֵי לְהוֹצִיא מִמֶּנָּהּ אֶת הַלֵּחָה שֶׁמְצַעַרְתּוֹ, וְאֵינוֹ חוֹשֵׁשׁ אִם תַּחֲזוֹר וְתִסָּתֵם מִיָּד, הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר מִשּׁוּם צַעְרוֹ. וְדַוְקָא לְנָקְּבָהּ עַל יְדֵי מַחַט וְכַדּוֹמֶה אֲבָל לֹא בְצִפָּרְנָיו, מִשׁוּם דְּתוֹלֵשׁ קְצָת מֵעוֹר הַמֻּרְסָא, וְיֵש בָּזֶה חִיוּב. וְגַם עַל יְדֵי מַחַט וְכַדּוֹמֶה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָחוּשׁ, שֶׁמָּא יִתְכַּוֵּן שֶׁתִּשָׁאֵר פְּתוּחָה, כְּדֵי שֶׁתּוֹצִיא לֵחָה גַּם אַחַר כָּךְ עַל כֵּן אִם אֶפְשָׁר יֵשׁ לַעֲשׂוֹת עַל יְדֵי נָכְרִי. ‏

One who punctures an abscess in order to enlarge the opening of the wound, in the manner of physicians when they attempt to facilitate healing by enlarging the opening of the wound, is guilty of a Shabbos violation, for this requires a doctor's skill. If his [purpose in] opening it the abscess is only to drain the pus, which is causing him pain, and he is unconcerned if the [opening] closes up again immediately, this is permitted due to his pain. [This is permitted] only when he punctures it with a needle or something similar. But, [he may not do so] with his nails because he then tears some of the skin of the abscess, which makes him liable [for doing a melachah]. Even by means of a needle or something similar, there is concern that he may want the wound to remain open, so that the pus will continue to drain, therefore, wherever possible this should be done by a non-Jew.

Seems that the only concern is Shabbat-related and causing permanent changes to one's body is not an issue.

  • 1
    Regarding ashes and scars, this is assuming it's for the purpose of healing. Otherwise there would be a question of being chovel b'atzmo since scratching and scarring may be a problem unless preempted by some sort of tza'ar. Good source with the second part on the wound and shabbat! Should be brought to people's attention. – chacham Nisan Oct 21 at 10:12
  • @chachamNisan - can't find anything on Chovel b'Atzmo except in Yoreh Deah 157:1 in the Be'er Heitev. But that is about getting killed. And in Bava Kama 91b החובל בעצמו רשאי אבל אחרים שחבלו בו חייבים – Danny Schoemann Oct 22 at 7:57
  • See Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 420:31 and here: etzion.org.il/he/… – chacham Nisan Oct 22 at 11:42
  • Although I don't think pimples would be considered chovel, even though I don't have a basis except that it seems too much to say so(even though they can cause pain). The source for chovel b'atzmo is Bava Kamma 91b. Comes up in surgery questions a lot. – chacham Nisan Oct 22 at 11:44

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