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The Scientific Reason Why You Can’t Stop Popping Your Pimples

Can’t help popping your pimples? Here’s why that habit is so tough to break.

Let’s be honest: no matter how harmful we know it is, nearly everyone’s been guilty of popping a pimple or two. Even among the most dermatologically responsible of us, popping a zit can be oddly satisfying. In fact, some people enjoy popping pimples so much they’ll watch videos of other people doing it. So, what exactly is the allure of this ritual? Let’s investigate what’s at the root of our picky behavior.

The Pimple Popping Craze

Believe it or not, pimple popping videos are becoming increasingly popular on prominent social media platforms. Take Dr. Sandra Lee’s huge internet presence as a prime example. Under the Instagram handle @drpimplepopper, the dermatologist has more than 2.2 million followers who can’t get enough of watching her drain blackheads, pimples, cysts, and more. Her YouTube channel, which also boasts more than 2 million subscribers, depicts the extractions in even more gory detail. Warning: these videos are not for the squeamish!

Why We Want to Pop Pimples

Why are people so fascinated with Dr. Lee’s videos? For those of us who have acne, keeping our hands off our zits is often easier said than done. After all, the urge to pick isn’t just personal — it’s biological. Just like other animals, human beings have a natural instinct to groom, which means a natural instinct to do away with anything that doesn’t belong on our skin.

The result of that grooming? A rush of dopamine, and a sense of satisfaction post-picking. No wonder we’re often not satisfied with just getting an acne facial; when we pick pimples ourselves, we get a feel-good rush of endorphins that doesn’t accompany the more impersonal (and more responsible) alternative. Although watching videos is arguably even less personal, there’s something satisfying about watching other people have these imperfections removed.

To Pop or Not to Pop?

Sure, popping pimples can be fun. But it can also cause infections, worsen breakouts, and leave permanent scars on your skin. Even if you’re careful, popping zits at home does your skin more harm than good.

Like watching Dr. Lee’s videos? Great! Get your daily dose of pimple popping online, rather than picking at your own face. If you simply can’t resist the allure of popping your zits, talk to a dermatologist before attempting any at-home extractions.

If you want help with your pimples you can get a professional dermatologist to give you a personalized treatment plan from the comfort of home with our Virtual Acne Program. Get started here:


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