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West MI dermatologist discusses ‘Dr. Pimple Popper’ phenomenon

Posted at 10:51 PM, Feb 27, 2019

**Warning: Some of the content in this article may be disturbing to some viewers.**

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Videos of people popping zits and cysts has become a trend these days.

The woman commonly known as Dr. Pimple Popper has gone viral for her cringe-worthy posts, even landing a show on TLC.

The videos are gross; there’s no other way to describe it, but a large majority of the population can’t look away.

FOX 17 sat down with a Grand Rapids dermatologist to talk about the craze and some of what he’s seen.

They ooze and they squish, big and small, some white or yellow, others brown.

"A lot of them smell like dirty feet sometimes," said dermatologist Dr. Stephen Cahill.

Cahill has seen a lot in his time as a dermatologist.

"I would say I've popped thousands of pimples," said Cahill.

Cahill, along with dermatologists all over the country, have been doing what Dr. Sandra Lee, also known as Dr. Pimple Popper, has been doing for years.

Lee went viral for her videos a few years ago, showing the ins and outs of her job.

"I think her marketing is fantastic," said Cahill. "I think she was also first to the show. There wasn’t anything on the internet like that before and then you had videos like that popping up and a lot of her videos were just seeing the contents kind of come out and how dramatic it was and how much of the contents were coming out.

"So I think people had never seen that before and it kind of went viral, she got that kind of mass effect of followers  and she does a good job. She’s a good dermatologist and she’s fun to watch.”

Dr. Pimple Popper’s videos from her practice in California were picked up for a television show on the TLC network, now renewed for a second season.

Cahill says she’s able to recruit extra rare cases from across the country for extra shock and awe, but says he sees a lot of similar cases in his office.

"She does a good job of pulling in just simple ones that would come in every day to conditions that are pretty rare that you might see one in a million, 1-in-500,000," said Cahill.

Those rare cases are what Cahill says he remembers the most.

"I remember most those football-sized cysts, one gentleman had a hydrocele on the groin that was very large, there were cysts on the head the size of a softball a couple months ago," said Cahill. "Larger things like that usually stick in your mind.”

Cahill says the pimple popper videos actually make his job easier. Usually, someone brings it up to him at least once a day.

"Because people come in and there’s not as much shock value for them, they’re ready for it before," said Cahill.

So why are people so mesmerized by something so disgusting?

“I also think it’s like a surprise," said Cahill. "It’s like your Christmas gift that’s wrapped up and you don’t know what’s inside the box and you’re just pushing on it to see what comes out."

But even though the videos make the procedures sometimes seem simple, Cahill says don’t try this at home.

"Certainly people come in all the time and usually the story starts with, 'I had this cyst, I took a needle, but don’t worry doc I put it under flame and I boiled it and then I poked it', and usually they get an infection or something like that, so we do hear that a fair amount," said Cahill.

In addition to not performing your own surgical procedures, Cahill recommends not popping your own pimples either, adding it can do more damage below the surface.

He also suggests if you have something you’re concerned about to get it checked out rather than just living with it, because it could be problematic later on down the road.