Dr. Pimple Popper has revealed everything you need to know about blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, comedones, cysts, and nodules.
Dr. Sandra Lee, dermatologist and TLC star — who presents the new season of her hit reality show on April 5 — spoke EXCLUSIVELY with DailyMail.com to give her ultimate guide to skin imperfections.
The TV star, 52, discussed everything from how to avoid it, how to blow it up, and even the serious consequences you’ll face if you do it wrong.
But before we get into the nitty gritty, she talked about her journey to becoming the beloved household name she is today.
“I do a lot more than just breakouts in terms of the dermatology field, but I couldn’t have gotten here if I didn’t have that knowledge and that experience and that training,” she told DailyMail.com.
“But it was a really crazy road to get here… I just started with a black hat, the nice simple black cape that came out of the leather and we posted it on social media and it took off and people just fell in love with it. It’s it.”
Black and white heads
Dr. Lee started by revealing the differences between blackheads and whiteheads.
“Blackheads and whiteheads are comedones — open and closed comedones,” she said. And they really are like the building block of pimples, too.
You get pores that fill up with sebum, oil, and dead skin cells — that’s what blackheads are.
These are the ones that can be extracted very easily, usually smoothed over, and maybe put a little salicylic acid cleanser on your face or some product that can help your exfoliation.
And then you can use a comedone extractor, which is what we kind of use to call that. So these are very simple, very basic.
“Most people will notice it on the oily parts of the face, like their nose, forehead, middle or middle cheeks, and chin afterward.”
Dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee, also known as Dr. Pimple Popper, spoke EXCLUSIVELY with DailyMail.com to give the ultimate guide to skin imperfections.
Blackheads (stock image) appear when pores fill with sebum, oil and dead skin cells – they can be extracted very easily
She continued: ‘The blackhead would be a dark spot there. This is really like a pore. The reason it’s dark is because it’s oxidized – meaning it’s only been exposed to oxygen and so it darkens.’
“Just like you cut an apple and let it sit, then it will turn brown.”
Dr. Lee then moved on to reveal the truth about whiteheads.
She began: “A whitehead is a blackhead, but with a thin layer of skin covering it, which means it is not exposed to oxygen and therefore does not oxidize.” It’s like an uncut apple.
“So it’s still white underneath because it’s not exposed.”
Dr. Lee drew attention to how to treat both blackheads and whiteheads: “You really want to clean out those pores, so you want products that are going to help unclog those pores that are going to exfoliate.”
“The chemical exfoliating acids, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid, will help keep those pores clear.
Retinol or tretinoin are great products too, because they really increase cell turnover efficiency (and) dead skin cells don’t stay on the surface of your skin for longer than they would need to be, so they don’t have the ability to. It clogs your pores.
Giving her expert opinion on the best equipment to use, Dr. Lee said that comedone extraction kits (stock image) are key.
“Sometimes you might think something is a blackhead,” the expert continued. You’re semi-positive and nothing comes out – and those are the people I want to warn you or anyone else about, because if you find yourself squeezing on something and it doesn’t go away, you have to put the comedone extractor down.
“You should even set a timer if you’re having a hard time with it and say, ‘Okay, in 30 seconds, I’m not going to do this anymore because there’s clearly nothing there.'” “
Giving her expert opinion on the best equipment to use, Dr. Lee said comedone extraction kits are key.
What’s nice about them is that the ones I use have a loop so you can really apply even pressure on all sides.
Sometimes, when you’re heading on one side, it won’t happen, but if you’re coming at it the other way, it will. It also allows you to choose which side you want to press on,” Dr. Lee revealed.
Pimples and pimples
Discussing pimples and whiteheads, Dr. Lee said, “When you see in a cartoon, like, a big pimple ready to burst, we can technically call it a whitehead, but it’s actually not white.”
These are blisters. He’s not angry. It doesn’t hurt. It’s more like one of those little spots that look like blackheads, but covered in a layer of skin.
The next step is an inflammatory papule, pustule or what we call a pimple, which is when it is red and angry.
This is really when the bacteria decide to get involved and realize that with all that dirt, debris, and oil, these pores are the perfect environment to camp out in.
Dr. Lee also explained the difference between pimples and pimples and how to deal with them
She is just trying to live, grow and eat. It feels like it’s nice and warm and cozy in there and so it actually lights up the area.
And that’s why it gets so red and irritated that your body is actually using your immune system to fight it off.
‘become red and angry.’ Turns into a pimple. Pus appears as everyone is trying to expel (bacteria) from this area and that’s what you see as a really painful pimple and it’s there. He’s white.’
She continued, “When you have an existing pimple and you know it’s there and you obviously have a major event coming up ideally you want to inject it with a little bit of a low-potency corticosteroid because that will basically clear it up or subside within a day or less.”
This is not always easy, is it? Because you don’t always have a dermatologist on call.
She said the pustules are the type of spot you see in the cartoon “ready to pop” but turn into inflammatory papules – also known as warts – when bacteria become involved (Stock Image)
If you don’t, the next best thing is to put a pimple patch on it that is being treated because it will help keep your hands off it because you don’t want to press on it at the time.
Because if you press on it—and we’ve all been there—it’ll make it bigger, it’ll make it redder, and it’ll make it worse in the long run.
“There’s a moment when you have an active pimple at that point where you can kind of express it, and that’s when it’s more superficial in your skin and when it’s not technically a whitehead but a pimple.”
‘This is because this pus is very close to the surface,’ she explained, ‘and a little light with a needle or scalpel might help express the contents. You get all of this.
Cysts and nodules
“The next step and the most severe form of acne or pimples is cysts or nodules,” Dr. Lee revealed.
These acne bumps are deeper and are a more severe form of acne and the problem with that is that they are more painful, they are more noticeable, and they also have a much higher potential for scarring.
And that’s where dermatologists come in and we say, “You know what, you really need to be a little more aggressive or try to dig up, and proceed with the treatment that way” because you don’t want to be left with scars because that’s been forever. And it’s hard to treat once you get it.
Sometimes they just sit there and up, especially at certain times of the month like the hormonal shifts in our bodies. And then they will come back and then come back again.
The most severe form of acne or pimples are cysts (arrow photo, left) or nodules (stock photo, right)
Sometimes they turn into cysts just to confuse you, because they have the same name, cysts you might see me talking about, where I squeeze out of the skin those epidermoid cysts which are really a different category – but we call them both cysts.
They really are infuriating, aren’t they? Because this stuff is under your skin, you can feel it and a lot of times it can make your skin look like…you’re embarrassed about this.
There are so many nodules on your skin and some of them never seem to go away. They just keep slowing down.
Revealing how to treat cysts and nodules, she said, “You really want to seek out a dermatologist’s care at that point because there are great medications we can use that can help you clear up your acne.”
But that’s what you really need at that point. You really want to take something systemically, meaning that it can work from the inside out to suppress the sebaceous glands, to help suppress those hormones specifically that cause acne breakouts.
Catch up on the new season of Dr. Pimple Popper April 5 on TLC