If you have a guilty pleasure when it comes to popping pimples in the mirror then you're more than likely to be following Dr. Sandra Lee, aka Dr. Pimple Popper, on YouTube or Instagram.
So why are people so obsessed with Lee's weirdly engrossing yet totally disgusting social media posts? She says it's a mix between being so gross you can't look away and also completely a satisfying feeling.
"It’s part fascination, part can’t look away, not unlike watching a car accident. There’s also something satisfying in the resolution, like something is being removed that shouldn’t be there and now the skin has been cleansed of an impurity," Lee told Whimn.com.
She even says that watching a pimple explode or extract neatly from the skin makes people feel... happy?
"They are actually very relaxing for many people. Many say they watch my videos to help them relieve anxiety, even as a daily bedtime ritual," she said.
Lee adds that while it may not exactly be the same as nightly meditation or daily yoga, her viral videos can help teach you about your own skin.
"People learn about their own bodies. I’m able to educate people about their skin along the way."
One thing all pimple-popping addicts should keep in mind is to use plenty of caution when recreating Lee's viral vids. In fact, she says to only pop a zit or pimple when it's come to a head beneath the skin.
"You really shouldn’t pop anything on your face unless it has come to a white/yellow head. If the pimple has a head, at that point it is OK to extract because the bump is very superficial to the surface of the skin and therefore the risk for permanent scarring is very minimal," she says.
"Usually if the pimple doesn’t have a head yet and is still under the skin, trying to extract it can not only be very painful, but increase swelling, irritation and increase your risk of infection. Worse yet, if you really traumatise the skin, you risk scarring which can be permanent."
So how exactly should you go about it? Here's how to successfully pop your own pimples, courtesy of Dr. Pimple Popper herself.
Figure out what you're dealing with
Lee says you shouldn't go around popping bumps on your skin willy-nilly. Instead, identify the culprit to see if it's worth popping or not. Here's what you could be looking at:
Comedones: Blackheads and whiteheads, which indicate a clogged pore. Like Lee said, it's OK to pop these if they've come to a head beneath the skin.
Pustules and inflammatory papules: A bubble-like white, raised bump, or a fiery red one. Caused by trapped bacteria in the skin; in some scenarios, they can be squeezed.
Cysts and nodules: These bad boys are the painful, stubborn ones buried deep beneath the skin. They swell easily when you press them and usually nothing can be expelled from them. Also known as cystic acne, you should seek help from a dermatologist if you have this because oftentimes prescription medication is necessary.
Know when to pop and when to stop
Once you're on a roll, it can be difficult to pry your fingers away from your face and stop popping. But Lee says you shouldn't give yourself free reign.
If you do see a pimple that has come to a head, here's your game plan: Wash your face with warm water and a cleanser. Then hold a warm wash cloth on the pimple for a few minutes. That will help open up the pores, allowing for easier popping.
Using a comedone extractor, apply pressure around the circumference of the pimple to ease out the contents of the clogged pore. If you start to see blood, that's when it's time to stop. If the pimple still doesn't want to come out, stop immediately. If the bump persists or grows larger, call your dermatologist.
Treat it ASAP
Once you pop the bump, it's important to act quickly to reduce redness, inflammation and risk of infection. Quickly press a cold wash cloth over the pimple. Next, disinfect with rubbing alcohol.
Not only will rubbing alcohol kill any germs left from your hands and tools used to pop your zit, but it will also settle in your pores and help prevent new blackheads and zits from forming.
Photo Credit: YouTube / Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper)