For teens who suffer from acne, the quest for a clear complexion can be daunting.
Many want to do everything they can to block those blotches permanently and that includes squeezing and picking their skin. But experts say all that touching can just inflame the situation. How do you help your teen stop the pop?
Like most teenagers, Lauren Fried battles the occasional blemish.
"Sometimes it's just little pimples. Sometimes it's one really big one," Fried said.
As the daughter of a dermatologist, she knows that squeezing them is not the answer.
But Lauren has a confession: even she can't resist taking matters into her own hands.
"You know it's the wrong thing to do, but sometimes you just want to do it because it makes you feel so much better."
For teens like Fried, acne is still the most common skin diagnosis. Stress from school, sports, social pressures and more can worsen the situation.
Dermatologists are seeing an increase in students who pick, squeeze and dig into their skin. Some even go as far as using tools, like a safety pin.
Dr. Andrew Alexis is with the American Academy of Dermatology and says the urge to attack blemishes "hands-on" can be overwhelming.
"Acne can have major social implications, and so the urge to do something that can remove the pimple as fast as possible is especially an issue amongst teenagers," Alexis said.
Teens, who are already self conscious about their bodies and vulnerable to depression.
"When it's you that has bad skin you just think that everyone's watching you," Lauren Fried said.
Dermatologist and clinical psychologist Dr. Richard Fried says that popping also provides a psychological release.
"They really feel this sense, almost like they're going to explode. They pick or pop and it's almost like deflating a balloon," Dr. Fried said.
Dr. Fried, who is also Lauren's father, says this behavior can be downright addicting. Think of it as a cycle. Once teens start to pop, many find it tough to stop.
Dr. Alexis says picking can cause tremendous trauma to the skin, ranging from redness and dark spots to inflammation and scarring. It can even cause the acne to spread.
"While the goal is to get what's inside the pimple outward, you can inadvertently spread some of the contents the other way, deeper into the skin," he said.
There is also the risk of infection.
The good news?
Today, there are plenty of acne treatments that make the grade.
Look for over the counter ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.
If those don't help: "Seeing a dermatologist to get started on a good, effective acne regimen will really be the most important thing to help control the acne," Alexis said.
Meantime, advise your teen to back away from the bathroom and other "high risk" areas with mirrors.
Dr. Fried also suggests exercise to take your mind off picking, or anything else that will lessen the urge to pop.
"It might be having a coin to roll in your hand. It might be keeping your phone in your hand," Fried said.
Visualizing potential damage may also help.
Lauren Fried says, when she sees a spot, she tries to amp up her acne regimen. And if she feels someone staring... "You really just sort of need to take a deep breath and walk away and put on a lot of cover up!" Lauren said.
If your teen is having significant trouble, Dr. Fried suggests contacting a mental health professional.
If scarring is an issue, Dr. Alexis says a variety of in-office treatments are available, including lasers and chemical peels.