It's oddly satisfying and sometimes hard to resist, especially when you've got the mother of all spots growing on your forehead.
There’s a fine line between fascinating and repulsive – as our intrigue into watching all manner of zits, blackheads and blemishes being extracted proves.
At the forefront is US dermatologist Dr Sandra Lee, who goes by the alias Dr Pimple Popper.
Her YouTube and Instagram accounts each have over 1 million followers, who tune in to watch her videos of the grim spots and other lumps the removes from her patients.
Initially surprised by the popularity, she suspects we just hid our love for watching pimple popping and now we’re all "out of the closet" with the knowledge that so many others like the same thing.
"It’s part fascination, part can’t look away, not unlike watching a car accident," she said.
"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."
Now, any dermatologist would tell you popping spots is a bad idea… but have we ever listened?
If you are going to tackle some at-home surgery, preparation is key.
"You really shouldn’t pop anything on your face unless it has come to a white/yellow head," Dr Pimple Popper said.
"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.
"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."
FIND OUT MORE How to get rid of 6 different types of acne from blackheads to cysts
Here's what you should do, step-by-step.
Step 1: Identify the culprit
As mentioned, you should never pop a pimple that doesn't have a yellow or white head – often known as a blind pimple.
Blackheads and whiteheads, which indicate a clogged pore. In some scenarios, they can be squeezed.
But what if you have pustules and inflammatory papules…
A bubble-like white, raised bump, or a fiery red one.
They're caused by trapped bacteria in the skin and, in some scenarios, they can be squeezed.
What if it's a cyst or nodule?
They are the most painful, stubborn ones, buried deep in the skin (you may know it as cystic acne.)
They swell easily when pressed and most of the time, nothing can be expressed from them.
Seek professional help if you have this type of acne because often prescription medications are necessary.
Don't squeeze them.
Step 2: Know when not to pop
If your pimple has a white or yellow head, it’s prime for the popping.
After washing your hands, wash your face with warm water and cleanser, then gently press a warm washcloth against the pimple for a few minutes, Sandra said.
This will help open the pores, allowing easier excavation.
Some of those blackheads will emerge effortlessly, and whiteheads will burst on impact.
Using a comedone extractor, apply pressure around the circumference of the pimple to ease out the contents of the clogged pore. It is time to stop if you see any blood.
If they aren’t extracting, don’t persist but stop immediately. It may not be a pimple that can be expressed.
Consult your dermatologist if your bump persists or enlarges.
Step 3: Once it pops… treat it quickly!
Once you’ve completed the extraction, apply a cold washcloth against the area.
Next, disinfect with a little rubbing alcohol, or the Dr. Pimple Popper's Spot Treatment, which contains salicylic acid which crystallises and is small enough to settle within the pores to prevent new blackheads and pimples from forming.
Using face washes with salicylic acid every day can also help prevent breakouts.
This story originally appeared on whimn.com.au and has been republished with permission.
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