Should You Pop Your Pimples? Where’s the Cure for Hair Loss? A Dermatologist Answers the Internet’s Skin Questions.

Dermatologist Dr. Muneeb Shah has all the answers

Dermatologist Dr. Muneeb Shah answers the internet's burning questions about skin.
Dermatologist Dr. Muneeb Shah answers the internet's burning questions about skin.

When it comes to the skin, there’s a lot to know. It’s your body’s largest organ, after all. And when you have questions about your body, you hopefully consult a professional and not, like, Joe Rogan. These days, if you want answers, you don’t even have to schedule a doctor’s appointment — just consult the internet!

Medical experts are using social media platforms like TikTok to educate and answer users’ questions regarding everything from skincare and sexual health to COVID-19 and IBS.

Dermatologist Dr. Muneeb Shah, who is more commonly known to his 11.7 million followers as the @dermdoctor on TikTok, recently sat down with Wired to answer the internet’s burning questions about skin and dermatology — questions nearly all of us have wondered at some point: How bad are tanning booths for you? Where is the cure for hair loss? Should you pop your pimples? Why do we break out when we’re stressed?

There’s a lot of good information in the 22-minute video, but a few highlights:

Right off the bat, Shah tells us the worst thing you can do for your skin is to go tanning, much to the dismay of my extremely pale skin. He later goes on to explain how he developed skin cancer at the age of 31 after excessively using tanning booths, adding that besides giving you cancer, indoor tanning machines can also cause you to age faster.

“You have UVB radiation, and you have UVA radiation. Now, UVB radiation, UVB, B stands for bad. That’s the one that damages your DNA and mostly causes skin cancer. And then UVA mostly causes aging. Well, our tanning booths are actually mostly UVA. So not only do they cause skin cancer, but they also accelerate aging rapidly,” Shah explains.

Speaking of tanning, Shah also clears up a common misconception regarding the SPF number you should be using on your face.

“…the FDA actually recommends SPF 15. SPF 15 blocks about 93% of UVB radiation. We find that that’s really not enough in dermatology because people don’t really apply it thick enough as they’re supposed to,” he says. “From the American Academy of Dermatology, we really recommend SPF 30 or higher. You don’t need SPF 100 but SPF 30 to SPF 60 is really gonna get you there. SPF 15 is probably not enough. When you get to SPF 30, you get 97% coverage if you use thick enough of a layer.”

And finally: CAN I POP MY PIMPLES?!?!

Uh, no, sorry!

“I am very much against popping your pimples,” says our derm doc. “They can lead to infections. They can lead to scarring.”

And now for some science: “We have to think about what causes the pimple, or where’s the pimple in your skin in general, it’s actually stuck inside your hair follicle unit or basically inside of your pore. So this pimple is a little pus ball filled and stuck inside this pore,” Shah continues.

“Now it’s restrained there which is fine. It’s not gonna cause any scarring at this point. The second that you pop it, you actually rupture that hair follicle, and it damages the surrounding collagen because of all that inflammation. So that’s where you get scarring. So definitely don’t pop your pimples … there are so many good spot treatments out nowadays that eliminate your pimples pretty quickly without you having to pop them.”

Apologies to you pimple poppers, but unless you want scarring and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation “that sticks around forever,” stop touching your face and use a zit sticker instead.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.