The weird world of YouTube pimple-popping videos

There's just something cathartic about a good pop.

May 21, 2018, 8:53 am*

Internet Culture

Lauren L'Amie 

Lauren L'Amie

pimple popping videos on youtube

Screengrab via DrPimplePopper/YouTube

This article contains videos of medical procedures that may be graphic. 

The pimple-popping community, much like a stubborn blackhead just waiting to be squeezed, was once hidden beneath the surface of the internet.

Today, homemade popping videos have emerged from the gross depths of Reddit forums to become the new norm. Medical professionals like Dr. Vikram Yadav or the iconic Dr. Sandra Lee—better known by over 2 million YouTube subscribers as Dr. Pimple Popper—are welcoming their time in the limelight with weekly videos of every kind of pop, incision, extraction, and removal.

When it comes to pimple-popping videos, there are those who are intrigued and satisfied and those who are horrified beyond measure. If you’re strangely pleased when you pop a zit or find yourself offering to pop your friends’ pimples, don’t be ashamed. You’re definitely not alone.

“I think in general, [popping videos] make people happy or they get a rush of endorphins,” Dr. Lee told the Daily Dot last year. “It’s almost like riding a roller coaster or watching a scary movie. It gets people excited. I think sometimes the first response of a lot of people is they are sort of repulsed by it, but it has this hypnotic quality.”

The best pimple-popping videos on YouTube

1) Blackhead removal

If you’re curious but a little squeamish, a good first watch is a blackhead video. There isn’t typically any blood or scary skin formations to worry about. Dr. Pimple Popper posts a ton of blackhead videos with names like “Blackhead Goldmine” or “Blackheads from Heaven.” Here’s a classic blackhead “field of dreams.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hnKD1r3ALY&t=172s

2) Mr. Wilson series

Some of Dr. Lee’s most popular videos are from a series of treatments with one patient, identified by Lee as Mr. Wilson. Obviously, he’s got a gnarly case of blackheads that took Lee multiple visits to extract completely. If you’re game to watch the whole series, you’ll also hear the surprisingly sweet story of Wilson and his wife. Who knew you could catch the feels during a skin extraction?

best pimple popping videos Dr. Sandra Lee/YouTube

3) Whitehead extractions

Dermatologists may refer to easily removed blackheads or smaller whiteheads as “soft pops,” meaning they don’t require extra tools or incisions. Some whiteheads, unlike blackheads, require a bit more poking and prodding to remove, but the results are just as satisfying.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TooQSWDnbhk

4) Large embedded blackheads

This one is a doozy. Dr. Vikram’s channel offers lots of blackhead videos that he films himself, so the camera is unstable or out of focus at times. But trust us, his unedited approach only ups the bizarre fascination factor.

pimple popping videos Dr. Vikram/YouTube

5) Solar comedone on the nose

A strange thing happens once you’re a seasoned pimple-popper watcher—you start to know things. Mostly, you start to pick up on dermatological vocabulary words you probably never thought you’d talk about with such authority. Weird skin knowledge is power, though, when you become the go-to friend who diagnoses skin problems early on (and offers to pop your best friends’ zit for the millionth time).


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6) Dilated Pore of Winer

This is the technical term for a pore that gets HUGE and amasses one super-sized blackhead. Bonus points for this particular video, which features a sweet mother and daughter backstory to distract you from what you’re really watching.

7) Clean pops

There’s something cathartic about the ones that come out clean. According to Lee, some research has suggested that people suffering from compulsive skin-picking disorders could curb their picking habit and anxiety by watching popping videos. But if the mere sight of blood or a scalpel has you screaming and slamming your laptop closed, stick with “clean” pops that don’t resemble an intense medical procedure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxXyJ3sC5sg

8) “Mama Squishy” or steatocystomas

Dr. Pimple Popper has a knack for coming up with names that are both enticing and terrifying—Mama Squishy is one such example. Steatocystomas are embedded cysts that, for this patient, have appeared in succession all over the face, arms, and neck, requiring multiple sessions. Dr. Lee chronicles the Squishy saga in a series of videos made for true popaholics.

pimple popping videos Dr. Sandra Lee/YouTube

8) “Meatball” cyst

Beware: Cyst removal videos are not for the faint of heart (or stomach). If you are so inclined to watch cyst removal videos, though, you’ll be both amazed and horrified by the things the human body is capable of making.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0l8KGT3GmU

9) Punch tool cyst removal

The list of methods to remove rare or oversized skin growths goes on for much longer than any non-professionals really know. What we do know is that this punch tool, called a biopsy punch, is like a super efficient hole punch for the skin. You’ll have to watch it to believe it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXkMOlQtmos

10) “Unicorn” cyst

You’ve got to hand it to Dr. Lee for making a golf ball-sized forehead cyst sound vaguely cool and appealing. This patient admits that he’s had the cyst for 6 years, again begging the question: How do you let anything get this out of hand before going in to see a dermatologist? The good news is that Dr. Lee hides the patients’ scar along an existing crease in his forehead. Innovative!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGuvPuv8FZ4

11) “Potato bud” or cutaneous horn

Dr. Pimple Popper herself didn’t have a confirmed diagnosis for this hard, twisted cutaneous horn growing from the side of a patients’ head. If you’re squeamish around needles, video of procedures that involve a lot of numbing (like this one) might not be for you. But if you’ve made it this far without losing your cool while watching a cyst video, your tolerance is definitely higher than you think.

best dr pimple popper Dr. Sandra Lee/YouTube

12) Ingrown hair removal

At this point, you’ve realized you are into the concept of successfully removing things from skin. Whatever, it’s not weird. Did you know along with blackheads, ingrown hairs often have to be removed? Check out this series of magnified ingrown hair removals from “the Dr. Pimple Popper of ingrown hairs, without all the gore,” according to Mashable. This compilation video is set to soothing piano music, which is an oddly satisfying plus.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgjLBBuokWk&index=1&list=PL_kNNHOdbATHRLgv1HhVaPs8EynFqBdto

13) 4-year-old zit

In April 2017, a 4-year saga came to a satisfying end for Facebook user Wade Powell, who posted a video of his wife removing an old spot on his cheek. “This is what happens when your wife is a nurse,” Powell writes.

Had this spot on my cheek for along time! This is what happens when your wife is a nurse.. Lol Khristina Powell Jd Wright

Posted by Wade Powell on Wednesday, April 12, 2017

14) Blackheads that are tougher than they appear

Sometimes the satisfaction is all about the buildup, especially when it comes to popaholic videos. Unlike with some of Dr. Lee’s older patients who have years’ worth of skin woes, teen acne is fresher and a bit more stubborn. In this case, Lee coaxes some very small but stubborn blackheads out with a comedone extractor.

15) Earwax removal

OK, so earwax isn’t a zit. But welcome to your next extraction obsession: earwax buildup removal. Whether earwax is more or less disgusting than zits is entirely based on personal opinion. But either way, you’ll likely find yourself diving into the dark parts of YouTube just to watch more.

earwax videos Auburn Medical Group/YouTube

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.

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*First Published: Jun 22, 2017, 5:00 am