Are You A Popaholic?

With over 77,000 likes on Facebook, 2.8 million followers on Instagram and YouTube videos with over 20 million views, Dr. Sandra Lee (a.k.a. Dr. Pimple Popper) is nothing short of a social media phenomenon. This sensation started with a single YouTube video posted by Dr. Lee four years ago showing extraction of a blackhead. Her cult following has led to a reality TV show on TLC, her own skincare line and even a game called Pimple Pete that lets you perfect your own pimple popping skills. The fascination with draining pus from infected cysts and squeezing pimples is evidenced by her growing cult-like following of so-called popaholics. It seems everyone gets a charge out of a good pimple popping!

The Downside of Picking

Even Dr. Pimple Popper admits that picking your own pimples or cysts can lead to infection and scarring. “Although we tell patients not to pick, we know that in reality most of them just can’t resist,” says Sanova dermatologist Dr. Patricia Farris. “Picking makes your blemishes last longer, causes dark spots and ultimately leads to scarring.” Instead of becoming an armchair aesthetician, we suggest you schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. Dermatologists can extract blackheads or drain acne cysts in a safe and sterile way. “I like to remind my patients that I have a license to pick but you don’t,” says Dr. Farris.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

While most patients who suffer from acne admit to picking a few pimples, there are some patients who develop a true obsession.  These patients spend hours in the mirror examining their skin, squeezing and picking even the smallest or sometimes non-existent blemishes. Dermatologists call this condition acne excoriee and recognize this behavior as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. “Acne treatments alone won’t help these patients,” says Dr. Farris. Patients with acne excoriee benefit from behavioral therapy or medications to help control impulsivity. Excessive picking is a tough habit to kick but early intervention is key to prevent complications like infection and scarring.

The Road to Success

There is no one size fits all approach to acne. Your Sanova dermatologist will ask questions about your medical history, hormonal problems, what triggers flare-ups, dietary habits, and current medications. In some cases, blood work may be necessary to determine contributing factors and help guide treatment. Our physicians use a comprehensive approach to acne that may include dietary recommendations, nutritional supplements, probiotics, and prescription medications. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation may also be helpful to reduce the stress that contributes to flare-ups. Every patient responds differently to treatment but the road to success requires the expertise of your dermatologist. And remember, NO PICKING!

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