Think back to your dream job when you were in school. Maybe you wanted to be a nurse after your friend's mum came into your third grade classroom for Career Day with a shiny stethoscope talking about how she makes sick babies feel better. Or perhaps you got really good at Operation, like unbeatable, and figured you'd eventually become a surgeon. Either way, mum and dad likely encouraged your medical ambitions (because, hello, job stability).
For Kristi Trinidad, the childhood dream looked similar — cool scrubs and surgical goggles — but instead of saving sick people or feeling that Grey's Anatomy adrenaline, she was in it for pus and pimples.
Since she graduated and became a trained medical assistant seven years ago, Trinidad has been working beside the queen of popping, cosmetic dermatologist Sandra Lee, MD (aka The Dr. Pimple Popper). "My school actually placed me in this office by chance," Trinidad tells us. "I remember the placement coordinator looked at me and said, 'I have the perfect place for you.' And she was right, I’ve been working with Dr. Lee for seven years now."
When it comes to the rise of popaholic fandom, Trinidad says she's always known that watching a stream of pus erupt out of a teeny tiny pore was a fascination enjoyed by many — albeit behind closed doors — and something that had the potential to be tapped as a surgical specialty. "My mom has always been really into pimple popping," Trinidad says. "Whenever I got a pimple as a teenager — whitehead, blackhead, whatever — she would insist on squishing and squeezing it. So I've loved watching other people get into the show and videos, and show their real passion for pimple popping."
Trinidad tells us that through her career, she has assisted on countless oozy, smelly, "oatmeal pus" extractions. (For the record, "oatmeal" is the how Dr. Lee often describes the consistency of the material that is removed from growths.) The most memorable though, didn't involve any of that — but featured a parasite that was mistaken for a skin tag. Is your skin crawling yet?
"One time this husband and wife came into the office," explains Trinidad. "The man was the patient, but once his appointment was over, his wife asked Dr. Lee to check this little fleshy bump on her side, which she assumed was a skin tag. But it was not a skin tag, it was actually a live tick! Dr. Lee removed it with tweezers and we recorded the whole thing, then put it on her YouTube channel — because it was so epic."
If you're brave enough to click play, the full video is below. The story serves as a reminder that one person's most memorable career pleasure is another's skin crawling pain.