Dr. Pimple Popper Tells Us Everything We Ever Wanted to Know About Acne

The Internet's favorite pimple-popping pro shares her secrets

It’s a weird fact of lie that while people universally hate zits, they are mesmerized by watching them be extracted, as California-based dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee, otherwise known as Dr. Pimple Popper, has learned. With nearly 1 billion views on YouTube, her (truly astounding and frequently disgusting) pimple-popping videos have gone completely viral — and we had the chance to ask her all of our burning acne questions, from the right way to squeeze blackheads to how to treat them once we squeeze them against doctor’s orders. Watch the video above for all of her tips, and see the answers to some of our most major acne questions, below.

What’s the right way to pop a pimple?
“Know when to pop and know when to stop. That’s the most important thing. I will continue to say, ‘Please don’t pop your own pimples,’ but I know you’re gonna do it anyways. … Be sterile, be as clean as possible. Make sure you have rubbing alcohol, clean the areas, make sure you have clean fingers or gloves are ideal, and try to use as sterile instruments as possible.” If you don’t have instruments at home, Dr. Lee recommends wrapping your fingers in tissue for traction. “Ideally, you want to squeeze out all that pus that’s in there because if you don’t, it can re-form or get bigger. So you really want to squeeze it just enough so you get a little tinge of blood.

How do you know when a pimple is ready to be popped?
“When you have a red pimple that you know is coming up, you know, when it hurts when you push down on it, it’s not really ready to pop yet,” Dr. Lee explains. “You want it to come to a head, where you get a white bump.” She recommends using a warm towel or compress on the area to bring it to a head.

What if you have an event coming up and a terrible zit you can’t handle yourself?
“The ideal thing to do is try to see a dermatologist and we can inject it. We inject it with a low potency cortical steroid, and what that does is it suppresses the immune system, and it makes it less red and it can calm it down and make it go away within 24 hours.”

What are the main types of acne?
There are blackheads and whiteheads, which Dr. Lee describes as the “building blocks” of acne. The second type is an inflammatory pustule, which grows under the surface and is commonly injected, and there is also tcystic or nodular acne, which includes larger blemishes that can lead to scarring.

Can blackheads be prevented?
“Blackheads can be prevented — we will use products like Retin-A, that’s something we use in the office. It’s probably one of the most effective ways to help prevent new blackheads from coming out, and it will soften the blackheads you have now to make them easier to extract.” And if you can’t get a prescription, use a retinol, which you can get over-the-counter.

What are the best ingredients for treating acne every day?
“Salicylic acid is a chemical peel acid that is one of the best treatment options for acne because it actually crystalizes and is small enough to settle into our pores so it prevents new acne from forming,” she says, adding, “benzoyl peroxide is a very commonly used product. It’s an anti-bacterial, it’s really great to help get rid of those bacteria that want to cause those red pimples under the skin.”

What’s the best thing to put on a pimple after it’s extracted?
“Try to use a little over-the-counter steroid, cause that will help to calm it down.”

What are your biggest acne questions? Sound off below.

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