There is a high probability that you have tried to pop a pimple or self-extract a blackhead somewhere on your own or someone else’s body at least once.
Whether or not you were successful or enjoyed the experience is questionable. But for those who do enjoy this activity, there is good news! Contrary to what some of your friends or family members may think, you are not odd, and you are in good company.
In fact, there is science to back up why some people may enjoy popping their own zits or watching others pop theirs.
According to researchers, some individuals who identify as problem solvers with a desire for control, seem to get the most pleasure out of popping pimples.
The exhilaration that comes with watching a pimple that decided to show up smack dab in the middle of your forehead (or someone else’s) explode is attributed to the pleasure hormone dopamine which is released when the reward center of the brain–the nucleus accumbens–has been stimulated inside the brain of the watcher or the popper (it is possible to be both).
On the other hand, if a pimple popping party does not sound like fun to you and you are repulsed from the mere thought of watching someone pop their acne or blackhead, you have the insular cortex of the brain to thank, because it controls social emotions such as a person’s sense of disgust to both smells and imagined divergent experiences (i.e., watching pus ooze out of a pimple).
Self-extracting one’s own zits, cysts, or blackheads is not a new phenomenon. What is new is the growing popularity of television programs and online videos dedicated to the act of destroying blemishes, with or without the assistance of a licensed professional.
Best practices suggest that one should never try to pop or squeeze pimples on their own because doing so can push the existing bacteria and pus backwards, deeper into the skin, ultimately causing more infection and possibly more pimples.
Furthermore, the area on the face from the corners of the mouth to the bridge of the nose is referred to as the triangle of death for good reason. Since blood vessels in this area of the face drain to the back of the head where they connect with veins at the base of the brain–which lead to the cavernous sinus (a hollow space underneath the brain)–any bacteria or blood clots could travel through these veins and have the potential to cause severe or possibly life-threatening conditions.
If you are unable to rid your face or body of uncomfortable or unsightly blemishes such as pimples, cysts, or blackheads with over the counter products such as face/body washes or spot treatments formulated to treat acne, you may want to seek the assistance of a licensed professional.
The California Department of Consumer Affairs licenses professionals from several disciplines who are trained to assist with skin problems and treatments. Visit search.dca.ca.gov to find a professional near you.