Why Do People Like Watching Gross Extraction Videos?

From pimple popping to blackhead extractions, it’s an obsession some of us will never understand.

Cover image via iPimplePopping

Most people enjoy the satisfaction that comes from squeezing or picking at an infuriating zit

Image via James Linge

But watching extremely graphic videos of other people doing the same? Not all of us are into that.

Image via iPimplePopping

However, there is a growing online community whose idea of a fun pastime is binge-watching extraction videos

With YouTube channels amassing millions of subscribers, Instagram accounts with millions of loyal followers and a subreddit dedicated to fellow poppers with over a hundred thousand readers, the content's fan base is only growing larger.

Here’s a video of a blackhead extraction with over 34 million views, something a fellow popper might enjoy watching

Warning: It’s not recommended you watch this unless you’re 100% sure you have the stomach for it!

This video was made by trained dermatologist, Dr. Sandra Lee. She runs one of the most popular pimple popping channels on YouTube and goes by the name Dr. Pimple Popper.

She uploads videos every single day, each featuring some sort of procedure. These can range from blackhead extractions to cyst removals to earwax extraction and to, of course, pimple popping.

If you can't bear to watch one without feeling last night's dinner come back up, you're not alone. But you're not in the majority either. People absolutely love these videos!

The following are comments from the above video that probably best summarise how lovers of the genre feel.

Image via Starla Bizarre
Image via Cathy Davidson

So why exactly do some people find so much satisfaction with these videos?

It turns out that there are some actual scientific explanations.

There are generally three reasons people enjoy the pimple popping genre:

1. People know they aren’t supposed to pop their own pimples

Image via arunimabasu

People generally know that they aren't supposed to pop pimples on their own. It's common knowledge that if you don't do it properly, it's likely that you will leave a scar and increase the risk of the pimple becoming infected. This could turn your pimple turn into a cyst, which is a whole lot worse. And while many people find the satisfaction of popping their nuisance pimples too satisfying to give up completely, many do try their best to resist the urge.

For these strong-willed people, determined to keep their hands away from their face, pimple popping videos help them get the satisfaction they want without actually popping their own pimples. Wannabe poppers can fulfill their desire to clean their face by living vicariously through someone else.

This is why some dermatologists actually see these videos as a good thing. They'd rather their patients get their popping fix without doing any actual popping.

It's a pretty similar concept to people who use mukbang videos as a dieting tool.

2. People generally like seeing bad, ‘painful’ things happen to others, not them

Image via flufflepot

It is no surprise that people like watching or hearing about bad things, as long as they themselves are far enough from the danger.

Nina Strohminger, author of The Hedonics of Disgust, explains that we tend to have a need to want to have bad experiences, but don't actually want to go through with it. She says, "Negative sensations are interesting, particularly when you're in a context where they can't hurt you. You're probably not going to step in dog sh*t just for the experience, but maybe you'd click on a link to watch someone else doing it."

It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Many of us loved the movie 'IT', but that doesn't mean we'd ever want to be dragged into a drain by a child-eating clown.

For whatever reason, some of us might have an unexplainable urge deep down inside of us to do the things in these videos even though we know it's not something we really want.

3. Grooming is rooted in us biologically. There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes from it!

Grooming ourselves, and each other, is evolutionarily ingrained in us. It's very common to see primates grooming one another all the time.

Carol Mathews, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, says, "Animals groom each other and pick off fleas and mites. Humans probably did that, too, thousands of years ago. And watching someone else groom themselves may be comforting on a deep level."

Our brain naturally produces urges to remove bumps from our skin since there's a chance they could be parasites or infections. And when you do give in to these urges (e.g. pop a huge zit), your brain releases a bunch of happy chemicals to reward you. In your animalistic brain, popping pimples is a good thing, whether it’s your pimple or someone else’s.

Confirming this, viewers of pimple popping videos often describe a sense of pleasure and calmness after seeing the effects of squeezing a zit or extracting a blackhead. And it is the craving to experience that pleasure again that keeps them coming back.

So don't judge your friends too harshly for their pimple popping binges

It's not that strange of a habit after all!

Do YOU like pimple popping videos? Let us know in the comments below!

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