My Secret Addiction: Trying to Pick Fia’s Face Pimple


I’m a picker. For anyone who is as well, you know what I’m talking about. I get great pleasure out of squeezing pus from places on any human body. Once, I begged Phil to let me do this on a sebaceous cyst he had on his shoulder. He was horrified. I was obsessed. So when he was sleeping I tried to sneak a pick. His sat up in bed confused. I was above him with my pimple popper, like a murderer with a kitchen knife.

“What the F-ck is wrong with you?” he screamed.

I lowered down my tool and told him I just needed to see if I could get anything out of it.

He felt violated. I felt disappointed.

I told him he either needed to get it professionally removed or let me have at it. He went to the doctor next day and scheduled an appointment with a scalpel. For the few days until he had it removed he eyed me with the wariness of a psychopath.

For non-pickers, this is a disgusting, gross, deplorable habit–something that is as obsessive and wrong as the Tea Party’s lame attempt to stop poor people from getting health coverage.

But my picking pleasure has to be reigned in when it comes to my kids. Toddlers won’t tolerate pimple popper tools or pain. And I don’t want to induce pain on them. However….

Fia has had what appears to be an ingrown hair or deep pimple on her face. It started out tiny. You can see it here on her right cheek (your left as you look at screen). But it never really came to a head. It just appeared one day and sat. And sat. And sat. For 4 months. Staying small. In a huge exercise in restraint, I didn’t touch it except to brush my finger over to see if there was actually a bump. There was.

Then, a week before school started it started to look red and inflamed. It looked like it was getting bigger with a small white head. I was gleeful.  Finally, the pimple is ready to come out and be crushed by me! I sat her down and said, “Mama wants to try something on your cheek.” I then went in with the popper loop and pressed. Nothing came out of her cheek. But a wail came out of her mouth.

“Mama, that hurt,” she cried.

So of course I immediately stopped and put some Neosporin on. Then I called the doctor. The redness worried me.

An hour later we were at the pediatrician. He poked and prodded far more than my one attempt, which helped to assuage my guilt over needling. He also couldn’t figure out what it could be. But the red inflammation worried him too. I felt silly for calling about it but he assured me that it was good that I did. He said when stuff like this gets infected, it can sometimes lead to staph.  He put her on a 10-day antibiotic treatment and referred us to a dermatologist. He said a specialist should look at anything that has sat on her face that long.

I was most concerned about the infection, but secondary was my want and need to get it off her face. Not because of vanity–it’s actually in a spot that could be a beauty mark, if a beauty mark was red. But you just don’t want something on your kid’s face that shouldn’t be there. Plus, as a picker it’s hard to keep your hands to yourself.

This week was our dermatologist appointment. I was anxious for resolution. The doctor looked at it closely and said it’s either a cyst, which would have to be cut out by a plastic surgeon (whaattt???) or a deep pimple that she could try and prick. Neither were great options. She reassured me over and over that if it were a cyst, it was absolutely benign. Still, I had a friend with something very similar on her face. She got it removed, also with reassurance it was nothing, but they biopsied it as standard procedure. Turns out it was pre-cancerous. So how do you REALLY know?

Then the doctor suggested a cortisone shot instead. She said it takes 2 seconds to get it in her cheek, it’s a small needle so just a tiny prick (less than the pimple prick device) and if it is a pimple then the cortisone would break it down and hopefully make it disappear. If it’s not, then we will know it’s a cyst.

I thought this sounded like a good option to at least try. Fia is pretty good with shots, though she’s never had one on her face.

I gave her a lollipop and told her there was going to be a small prick. In retrospect we should have had a nurse in there holding her head with me. As soon as the prick went in, she cried and turned her head, causing the needle to slice her face.

Now when I say “slice” it was less than anything Wayne Sanchez has done to her. It was a super small cut, but it did draw blood and tears and, of course, the cortisone didn’t go in.

We called the whole thing off.

I felt terrible and responsible since I had told the doctor to give it a try. But a few friends I’ve told have said, “Why was there no nurse in there holding her head to begin with?” I’m not trying to place blame, but it is a little weird right? She called the nurse in after it happened and said she could hold Fia’s head. But by then it was full on wailing and unless we put her in a straight jacket there was no way anything else was happening.

My pediatricians referred me to this practice, but I’m wondering how much they actually deal with small kids? I often see elderly people and adults in the waiting room. I’ll give Fia’s face a few more weeks, but then I think I should go to a practice that deals specifically with kids. Right?

In the meantime, I will try and embrace the bump, not fret over the “what-ifs” and perhaps find myself a good PA meeting. Pickers Anonymous. Sigh.


Photo of pimple cartoon via Shutterstock

Add a Comment
Back To Fearless Feisty Mama
  1. [...] so grossed out, he can’t even be in the same room. I, on the other hand, confessed recently to being a picker. So I think if you have the “picker gene” you’ll be as excited as I [...]