Hi. My name is Carol. And I am a popper addict. I never imagined I would be here, standing in front of you, declaring my addiction.
But it all started when I found Dr Pimple Popper on Instagram. Dr Sandra Lee MD in real life, nearly three million subscribers on YouTube. The video image was something gooey on pale skin. I clicked on it. One hour 37 minutes later I was still glued to her YouTube channel.
If you think you missed my transition it is because you have yet to watch any pimple popping videos. Dr Pimple Popper has a great bedside manner. And delicate hands, mostly encased in surgical gloves with sometimes bold nail polish colours seeping through, that prod and poke at and tease out the most fascinating, disgusting gunk hibernating underneath the human skin. Her face never shows up. But her voice is soothing, lulling clients better than any anaesthetic during surgery. And it is surgical.
The extraction of blackheads, whiteheads, cysts and other stuff so unusually repulsive she named them herself, is done with a swift snip of a blade, lanced or pressed upon with an extractor. The following squirts, ooze and/or abrupt pumps of happy to escape gunk has made her a YouTube celebrity.
It also explains, very succinctly, why we must not pop our own pimples at home. Out there, in the vast web, there exists an ingrown hair video with over 16 million views. Typing “popping” into YouTube yields about 3.9 million hits. Be warned. They are NOT dance videos.
A 4 minute 25 second cyst extraction video with over 36.4 million views is so delightfully terrible it is age-restricted. Extraction videos be they by Dr Vikram Singh Yadav, a superstar dermatologist in New Delhi, or YouTube’s Greatest Cysts, are curiously described as a fetish. Some go as far as calling them a kind of porn.
I had not intended to be a popperholic. I don’t have any inclination to pop my own zits. Any extractions during facials left me desirous to inflict that precise pain in retaliation. Except up close, extractions hold a bizarre fascination. These skin “eruptions” and “explosions” are so compelling viewers get a unique kind of satisfaction.
An ever-growing number of YouTube videos, well shot and impeccably produced or amateurish, zero in on a previously unknown niche. You think this is gross. Well, in May 2015 Medical Daily published an article with the header “The Science Behind Why Videos of Popping Pimples, Cysts, And Blackheads Are So Popular Right Now.” Of course you itch to know what they discovered.
It would seem our strong urge to avoid disgust has led us to outsource anything even remotely repulsive. So much so it has resulted in such a sanitary environment that “this desensitisation has allowed the rare, disgusting footage or experience to truly capture our attention.” That, or the thrill and rush, yes, rush as in high, “like riding a roller coaster.”
It helps that it is happening to someone else who is not us, safe behind our screens. Or, maybe it is simply soothing and a touch therapeutic.
Fans confess to falling asleep to Dr Pimple Poppers voice. Then again she once described her videos as an “orgasm of the brain”. Or, it prevents dermatillomania, a skin picking disorder and mental condition where one repetitively picks at their skin to the point of damage, listed as a form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders.
It could also be we are rooting for that gross thing to exit. Clearly science cannot find agreement on this one.
The intrigue of pimple popping has been explored to great effect by fashion magazines, both male and female, health publications and online magazines. “10 Reasons Why You Can’t Stop Watching Pimple Popping Videos!” “Why Do People Love Watching Disgusting Pimple Popping Videos!”, they yell.
No popperholic seems adequately verbal when it comes to explaining the joys brought by these videos, usually accompanied with viewer discretion, bring. I have none. I am but thoroughly riveted by gunk worming their surprised way out of human skin. So there.