5 Facts About Blackheads from Dr. Pimple Popper

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iStock

Whether you've simply had a blackhead or two (or more!) or you just love to watch them being extracted on YouTube, you've probably had a lot of questions about them. So when Mental Floss’s favorite dermatologist, Dr. Sandra Lee (a.k.a. Dr. Pimple Popper), stopped by our offices last month, we asked her to tell us everything we need to know about blackheads—and then we sprinkled in a few fun facts of our own.

1. THE MEDICAL TERM FOR A BLACKHEAD IS “OPEN COMEDO.”

The word comedo comes from the Latin word for gluttony, and, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, was “a name formerly given to worms which devour the body.” It's been used since 1866 to refer to what we colloquially call blackheads, which C. H. Fagge described that year in On diseases of the skin, including the exanthemata as “A small worm-like yellowish black-tipped pasty mass which can in some persons be made, by pressure, to exude from hair follicles.”

“A blackhead is an open comedo, as opposed to a whitehead, which is a closed comedo,” Lee says. And it's not dirt in there: It's skin debris and oil. “It’s essentially a clogged pore with skin debris settling down within it,” Lee says. “When this environment becomes very positive for bacteria to flourish—namely Propionibacterium acnes—it can help to promote acne.”

2. THEY’RE NOT BLACK BECAUSE THEY'RE DIRTY.

It's because the debris inside the pore has been exposed to air. “It’s oxidized,” Lee says, “and it turns the darker color.” Closed comedones, because they’re sealed on top, remain white.

3. SOME BLACKHEADS CAN BE CAUSED BY THE SUN.

“There’s really two main categories [of blackheads],” Lee says. “The blackheads that are caused by acne when you’re a teenager,” which usually appear on foreheads, noses, and chins. And then there are solar comedones, blackheads and whiteheads that are caused by sun exposure. “Those we see in older patients, and they’re caused by a lot of sun exposure through your life,” she says. These typically appear around hair and the eyes, and, says Lee, “when you have them in mass distribution, it’s called Favre-Racouchot.” A classic case is the Masked Man (above).

“When you have a cluster, those are usually pretty good ones because the skin is a little more lax, so the blackheads aren’t stuck in there,” Lee says. “They tend to come out a little bit easier, and they tend to be bigger because people don’t really know what they are. They let them go. They don’t really pay attention to them.”

4. THEY CAN GET REALLY BIG.

A dilated pore of Winer is, essentially, a really, really big blackhead. They're named after L.H. Winer, who published a paper on them in the Investigative Journal of Dermatology in 1954. (“It is usually filled by a keratotic plug which, when removed, allows the further expression of a relatively small amount of white, soggy keratin,” Winer wrote. “The patient usually gives a history that the condition has been present for several years and that he frequently expresses cheesy material from the lesion only to have it refill within a period of a month.”)

“They’re like the unicorn,” Lee says. “I usually find those in older people, in hard to reach places.” Dilated pores of Winer usually appear on the face or trunk, but scientists found one rare case in a woman's ear canal. The strangest place Lee has ever seen a pore of Winer never made it into a video. “It was in [a woman's] pubic area,” Lee says. “She had no idea what this was, and she was scared. It was huge. It was so dry. There’s no way I would have been able to squeeze that thing out, so I had to cut it out.”

5. THERE ARE SOME PLACES YOU CAN’T GET BLACKHEADS.

In order to get a blackhead, you first need a hair follicle. So, Lee says, you won’t see blackheads in “areas that don’t have hair, like your palms and the soles of your feet.”

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

7 People Killed by Musical Instruments

On occasion, a piano has been a literal instrument of death.
On occasion, a piano has been a literal instrument of death.
Pixabay, Pexels // Public Domain

We’re used to taking it figuratively. One “slays” on guitar, is a “killer” pianist, or wants to “die” listening to a miraculous piece of music. History, though, is surprisingly rich with examples of people actually killed by musical instruments. Some were bludgeoned and some crushed; others were snuffed out by the sheer effort of performing or while an instrument was devilishly played to cover up the crime. Below are seven people who met their end thanks to a musical instrument.

1. Elizabeth Jackson // Struck with a Flute

A German flute.The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments (1889), Metropolitan Museum of Art // Public Domain

David Mills was practicing his flute the night of March 25, 1751, when he got into a heated argument with fellow servant Elizabeth Jackson. A woman “given to passion,” she threw a candlestick at Mills after he said something rude. He retaliated by striking her left temple with his flute before the porter and the footman pulled them apart. Jackson lived for another four hours, able to walk but not make sensible speech. Her fellow servants decided to bleed her, a sadly ineffective treatment for skull fractures. “Her s[k]ull was remarkably thin,” the surgeon testified at Mills’s trial.

2. Louis Vierne // Exhausted by an Organ Recital

Louis Vierne plays the organ of St.-Nicolas du Chardonnet in Paris, France.Source: gallica.bnf.fr, Bibliothèque nationale de France // Public Domain

Reputed to be the king of instruments, the organ requires a performer with an athletic endurance—more than 67-year-old Louis Vierne had to give during a recital at Notre Dame cathedral on June 2, 1937. He collapsed (likely of a heart attack) after playing the last chord of a piece. With a Gallic appreciation for tragedy, one concertgoer noted the piece “bears a title which, given the circumstance, seems like fate and takes on an oddly disturbing meaning: ‘Tombstone for a dead child’!” As Vierne’s lifeless feet fell upon the pedalboard “a low whimper was heard from the admirable instrument, which seemed to weep for its master,” the concertgoer wrote.

3. James “Jimmy the Beard” Ferrozzo // Crushed by a Piano

The exterior of the Condor Club in 1973.Michael Holley, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Getting crushed by a piano is usually the stuff of cartoons, but what happened to James Ferrozzo is somehow even stranger than a cartoon. “A nude, screaming dancer found trapped under a man’s crushed body on a trick piano pinned against a nightclub ceiling was too drunk to remember how she got there,” the AP reported the day after the 1983 incident. The dancer was a new employee at San Francisco’s Condor Club (said to be one of the first, if not the first, topless bar). The man was her boyfriend, the club’s bouncer. And the trick piano was part of topless-dancing pioneer Carol Doda’s act—a white baby grand that lowered her from the second floor. During Ferrozzo’s assignation with the dancer, the piano’s switch was somehow activated, lifting him partway to heaven before deadly contact with the ceiling sent him the rest of the way.

4. Linos // Killed with a Lyre

A student and his music teacher, holding a lyre—potentially Herakles and Linos.Petit Palais, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.5

One of the greatest music teachers of mythic Ancient Greece, Linos took on Herakles as a pupil. According to the historian Diodorus Siculus, the demi-god “was unable to appreciate what was taught him because of his sluggishness of soul,” and so after a harsh reprimand he flew into a rage and beat Linos to death with his lyre. Herakles dubiously used a sort of ancient stand-your-ground law as a defense during trial and was exonerated. Poor Linos: an honest man beaten by a lyre.

5. Sophia Rasch // Suffocated While a Piano Muffled her Screams

Pixabay, Pexels

No one better proves George Bernard Shaw’s quip that “hell is full of musical amateurs” than Susannah Koczula. “I have seen Susannah trying to play the piano several times—she could not play,” 10-year-old Carl Rasch testified at Koczula’s 1894 trial. Susannah, the Rasch’s caregiver, distracted little Carl, sister Clara, and their neighborhood friend Woolf with an impromptu performance while a gruesome scene unfolded upstairs: Koczula’s husband tied and suffocated Carl and Clara’s mother, Sophia Rasch, before making off with her jewelry. “She banged the piano,” explained Woolf. “I heard no halloaing.”

6. Marianne Kirchgessner // A Nervous Disorder Acquired Playing the Glass Armonica

According to one doctor, Ben Franklin's instrument caused "a great degree of nervous weakness."Ji-Elle, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Benjamin Franklin invented the glass harmonica, or armonica, in 1761, unleashing a deadly scourge upon the musical world. “It was forbidden in several countries by the police,” wrote music historian Karl Pohl in 1862, while Karl Leopold Röllig warned in 1787 that “It’s not just the gentle waves of air that fill the ear, but the charming vibrations and constant strain of the bowls upon the already delicate nerves of the fingers that combine to produce diseases which are terrible, maybe even fatal.” In 1808, when Marianne Kirchgessner, Europe’s premiere glass armonica virtuoso, died at the age of 39, many suspected nervousness brought on by playing the instrument.

7. Charles Ratherbee // Lung Disease Possibly Caused by Playing the Trumpet

A valve trumpet made by Elbridge G. Wright, circa 1845.Purchase, Robert Alonzo Lehman Bequest (2002), Metropolitan Museum of Art // Public Domain

One summer day in 1845, Charles Ratherbee, a trumpeter, got into a fight with Joseph Harvey, who rented space in a garden from Ratherbee and was sowing seeds where the trumpeter had planned to plant potatoes. When confronted, Harvey became upset and knocked Ratherbee to the ground with his elbow. Two weeks and five days later, Ratherbee was dead.

Harvey was arrested for Ratherbee’s death, but a doctor pinpointed another killer: An undiagnosed lung disease made worse by his musical career. “The blowing of a trumpet would decidedly increase [the disease],” the surgeon testified at Harvey’s manslaughter trial. When asked if he was “in a fit state to blow a trumpet” the surgeon replied bluntly, “No.” Harvey was acquitted and given a suspended sentence for assault. The trumpet was never charged.