Can you die from popping a pimple?

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When you get a pimple on your face right where everyone can see it, the first thing you think to do is squeeze it. However,  health experts have cautioned picking or popping pimples could have fatal outcomes.

The Danger Zone…

Especially,  popping a pimple in the area from the top of the nose to a point on either side of the lips, right where the skin stretches from the corners of your mouth usually where dimples appear.  This area is known as the triangle of death.  This sounds insane, however, popping a pimple in this area of your face could have deadly outcomes.

Why can popping a pimple in this area of your face be deadly?

The dangers of popping your own pimples…

So why is this an area you should stay avoid popping pimples in? How do health experts say this is a bad area to pop a pimple in that could have deadly outcomes?  Jeremy Brauer, clinical professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, explains that the veins here lead back to the “cavernous sinus” located in the brain.  Squeezing a zit can create an open wound, which can become contaminated by any dirt on our hands or bacteria that is in the air.

You can develop an infection and getting an infection on that area of your face could, in fact, be deadly.

The veins can then form clots to contain infections, which puts pressure on the brain, leading to partial or full paralysis and, in some cases it can cause death.  If nothing is done to treat the infection then an infection of the sinus cavity can occur causing a total loss of vision, brain abscesses and meningitis.

Dr. Sandra Lee who is also known as the famous Dr. Pimple Popper on TV said that if inflammation from a pimple spreads to the inner part of the brain, there’s potential for blindness and a massive stroke.

Should this be something you should panic about?

This condition is called the Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis. There are sinus cavities located throughout the skull. Behind each eye and beneath the frontal portion of the brain is the cavernous sinus. It is through this sinus cavity that venous blood runs from the head back to the heart. An infection or an injury anywhere in the head may result in the formation of a blood clot, or thrombus, in the cavernous sinus in the body’s effort to prevent the spread of the infection. When this blood clot presses on the vein or any of the nerves within this cavity, it results in cavernous sinus thrombosis. This condition is very rare.  However, it is still important to be aware of the symptoms in order to get the necessary treatment as soon as possible.

What are the symptoms of Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis?

They usually come with symptoms such as

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Drainage
  • Bleeding
  • The spot will keep coming back and filling with pus
  • Severe headache often accompanied by tearing
  • Irritation around one or both eyes
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Inability to move the eye
  • High fever
  • Pain or numbness around the face or eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Vision loss
  • Feeling confused
  • Double vision and seizures are rare but are possible.

While these manifestations unquestionably aren’t wonderful to experience, they’re easy to notice.  So if you experience any of these symptoms after popping a pimple, and the symptoms aren’t improving after a day or so, you should probably see your primary or a dermatologist before anything bad occurs.

What else should you avoid doing on your face?

According to WebMD, there are other, more common types of infections in this area that you should take steps to avoid. Popping a pimple, picking at a scab, plucking out a nose hair.  These are all of these things that can break the skin and lead to infections like furuncles (boils, which are infections of the hair follicles) and cellulitis (when the layers of the skin are infected.) These days, many bacterial infections are harder to treat because of antibiotic resistance, especially certain kinds of staph infections, so it’s best to try to prevent them from happening.

Prevention tips to avoid the Triangle of Death

According to Neha Pathak, MD, here are some tips for preventing and treating skin wounds, both in the “triangle of death.”

  • Use moisturizers and moisturize your skin on a regular basis.  This will help to prevent cracking or peeling on the skin.
  • If you have a zit, do NOT pop it, no matter how many “how to pop a pimple ” videos you watch on YouTube! Even if it doesn’t cause an infection or a serious condition it can leave scars on the face and skin discoloration too.
  • Don’t pluck nose hairs. Trim them instead.
  • Replace your makeup products regularly basis.
  • Wash any open wounds you have with soap and water.  Do this on a regular basis until they go away.
  • Use topical ointments on your open wounds.  You can use petroleum jelly for minor cuts.
  • Contact your doctor for signs of infection like pain, redness, and pus or liquid that keeps occurring and doesn’t dry up.

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