Scarred For Life #2: The Blackhead Blasting Blockhead

Scarred For Life #2: The Blackhead Blasting Blockhead

I used to have terrible skin. Terrible enough to kill my teenage self-esteem. Terrible enough to warrant trips to the dermatologist. I tried all of the basic treatments, everything they offered over the counter and maybe half the things made available to doctors. I watched my diet and washed my face regularly. I used hypoallergenic products, and I was moderate with the make-up and the cover-up creams.

Nothing worked. I got everything from blackheads to whiteheads, from big red painful zits to pus-filled little pimples. I hated myself and thought I was ugly to the core.

My mother assured me that it was a phase and that I’d outgrow it. She’d had a few while growing up, and my father had gotten more than a few. She warned me about picking at them and said that if I did so I could end up with a cratered face like my father. God forbid. I made absolute sure not to pick at my acne.

…too much.

It was good advice, but she should have broadened her audience. On one of my trips to the dermatologist, I made a complaint about a blackhead that had been bothering me for weeks. It was smack dab in the middle of my left cheek, and in my hypercritical eyes it was huge. HUGE. A glaring beacon of ugly blackheadedness that ever was seen. My gentle picking at it and careful squeezing of it had not affected it at all. It still gaped like the greasy black hole that it was, and I was getting desperate.

“Please,” I implored the dermatologist. “Is there anything you can do?”

He looked me over for a moment or two, and I thought perhaps he was mentally going over his inventory, his medical artillery against teen acne. I thought for sure he had a snake oil cure-all that would make the blackhead disappear on the spot.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

He called to his assistant to get some kind of tool. I think it was some kind of tiny spoon with a long handle. He may have even had two of them, I don’t know.

Then he leaned toward me, his face looming over my face, and before I knew it he was pressing on my cheek with those metal things, squeezing and squeezing, and God damn it, hurting the hell out of me.

My thoughts were rather predictable:

Aaaauuuurrrrgggghhhh! What the…?! My mom warns me not to pick at my face, and what does this guy think he’s doing to me?

He was picking at my face, that’s what. He was picking at my face and hurting me. Suddenly, it felt as though he’d slipped, and the pain actually got worse.

“There!” he said proudly. “I got it.”


My entire left cheek was throbbing, and I was bleeding a little. The greasy blackness was gone, but I had no idea what was left. The little cratered scar didn’t show up until later, slightly bigger than the blackhead ever was, and in the shape of an upside down Canadian maple leaf.

To this day, I still have it. It’s the only acne scar I have.

And if I ever see that dunderheaded dermatologist again, I’ll do what I wish I’d done back then and punch him right between the eyes.

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11 thoughts on “Scarred For Life #2: The Blackhead Blasting Blockhead

  1. :::shudder:::

    I have had a rather bad experience with dermatologists, too. You see, my skin tends to be dry and sensitive. A couple of years ago, I had developed a minor acne type rash on my upper arms. On consulting a reputed dermatologist, I was prescribed a Tretinoin based topical ointment. I was assured that daily application of the ointment would cure the rash.

    The result? The skin on my upper arms became red and inflamed and started peeling. At first it looked like a nasty sunburn, and then it started looking like a peeled lobster. Moreover, the slightest touch of fabric made me feel like my arms were on fire… even my super soft quilt felt like a prickly cactus against my skin.

    I tore up the prescription, and discontinued the use of that ointment. For a month I slathered my arms with baby oil and calamine lotion and only then did the inflammation recede.

    Ugh. That was a scary experience.

  2. Just be thankful it was the Canadian flag and not the Stars & Stripes!

    A little humor from north of the border…EH!

  3. popping zits is an evil rotten habit. and so terribly satisfying. in a disgusting kinda way.

    the only time i ever wanted to deck a professional was after a trip to the dentist. this ass hole was the most sadistic SOB i have ever been to. i actually sat up in the chair, took the shit out of my mouth and gently pushed him away. and then gave him a look that said if you don’t begin to be more gentle with my teeth, i am NOT going to gentle with yours.

  4. I once scratched out a blackhead and it left a little hole in my face. Which after reading this article I ran to the mirror to check and see how it turned out (15 years later) and yep, it’s still there. God damn black heads!

  5. Screwed up my self esteem, too. Took a trip to Copper Mt. in Colorado as a late teen. Everyone looked "beautiful" I looked like a meat lover’s special from Dominos.

    But knowledge is power. I read up on skin eruptions at my local library. I got a cheap benzoil peroxide solution (Kmart, 10%) and most importantly, stopped touching my face. You’d be surprised how much you do it during the day, transferring oil from your fingertips to your face. Within 2 mos. I was relatively zit free. Blackheads I just squeezed out and nuked their nests with rubbing alcohol. Added bonus of benzoil peroxide? Blond highlights any hair it touches (if that’s what you want) I really didn’t care about that.

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