If you haven’t heard of Dr Pimple Popper, where on Instagram have you been living? We kid, but we’re not kidding about her fame. Ever seen one of those gross but satisfying blackhead extraction video? That’s probably one of hers. The California dermatologist, whose real name is Sandra Lee, first got her claim to fame four years ago when a blackhead extraction video she posted on social media went viral. She currently has 2.9 million followers on Instagram and over 4 million followers on YouTube. Now, she even has her own show on TLC.
Despite her busy schedule, we managed to squeeze in a short interview with her on pimple-popping and adult acne.
Have you ever gotten grossed out while doing an extraction?
Extraction doesn’t really gross me out. I’m more grossed out by other things like nail fungus because I do not like to take off toe nails. Cysts don’t really bother me as long as I have my gear on and I’ve done a lot of them so I’m not intimidated. Regardless the extraction, I’ve never acknowledged or make any comments to make my patients feel bad. I think it’s important to be respectful. That’s very important to me because for someone to see a doctor in the first place, they are in a very vulnerable position as they are showing things that they might not have shown anyone else. They will not want to feel judged and embarrassed about it. And my staff know that too, they know not to act gross out or say anything that will make the situation uncomfortable. I mean sometimes blackheads and cysts can be surprising. They are like snowflakes you know, they are never one the same and you never know what you are going to get. But that’s also what makes it fun and exciting for people to watch the show.
You’ve removed quite a number of nasty blackheads. What are the common causes for such serious cases?
There are two basic categories of pimples: blackheads and whiteheads. They are caused by pores that have been clogged with debris, sebum and dead skin cells all of which are primary building blocks of acne. When you get red and painful pimples, it’s because these blackheads and whiteheads are clogged up with bacteria that triggers inflammation and infection. As the spot gets redder and rises to the surface to become a pustule, your body is actually recruiting white cells in order to fight it off and push it out. Cystic acne is a more severe form of acne; also pus-filled, cysts can be deep and have the potential to scar. A nodule is a hard, solid lesion that’s also deep within the skin.
Can you give us some tips to extract a pimple without scarring?
My mantra is know when to pop and know when to stop. If you’re going to take matters into your own hands, at least pop responsibly. Wait until the pimple comes to the surface of skin and a white bump appears. This is called a pustule, and is what can be successfully popped and make the pimple go away with no scarring. Be sure to have clean tools, hands and environment before you start popping away. Ideally, popping pimples in the shower with warm water will naturally help open pores. With your fingers wrapped in a clean gauze, very lightly press on the skin, close to the white bump of the pimple. At this point, most of the pus should come out easily. After popping a zit, following up with a good spot treatment is essential. Wipe the popped pimple with alcohol to remove any of the bacteria that you just released. Ice can also help decrease redness and inflammation.
What tips would you give to someone suffering from adult acne?
The best way to treat acne is to get into a skin care routine that actively prevents pimple. Start with washing your face twice a day, keeping skin moisturised and slathering on sunscreen. Look out for these three must-have ingredients in your acne-fighting arsenal – Benzoyl peroxide, Retinol and Salicylic acid. It’s important to give a new regimen two or three months before expecting results. Remember, the key to improving and maintaining great skin is consistency. If benzoyl peroxide, retinol, and salicylic acid help a bit but not completely or if you have cystic acne, see your dermatologist. You may need something beyond topical treatments.
Dr Pimple Popper airs every Monday on TLC (Singtel TV Channel 254) at 9pm.
Images: 123RF.com, AKA