Squeezing spots is one of those things, like eating blueberries straight from the pack and not applying sunscreen to my scalp in summer, that I sort of know is wrong ― but I feel like it can’t be THAT bad. Right?
Well, according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Shereene Idriss, I’m wrong (oh, good).
Recently, she shared a video in which someone with a swollen upper lip said “I will never pop another pimple in my face” ― implying the swelling was due to a tempting spot removal.
Dr. Idriss began her response by asking “Can this [intense swelling and apparent infection] actually happen to you if you pop your pimples?”
“I’m a board-certified dermatologist, and the reality is, yeah, it can,” she quickly rebutted. Here’s how:
It’s all about location
Pointing to her upper lip beside a nostril, the doctor said that “this area here is known as the triangle of death.” And the girl with the swollen lip? Yeah, her squeezed spot fell easily in those bounds.
Cleveland Clinic calls it the danger triangle ― but the point is, it covers “the section of your face from the bridge of your nose to the corners of your mouth,” where drainage lies closest to the brain. This makes infected spots in this area especially dangerous.
And, as if by a sick joke, this area is also one which we most often smear with bacteria.
“Everybody, you included, no matter how clean you are, tends to go like this throughout the day,” Dr. Idriss explains, wiping the sides of her nose with her thumb and forefinger and swiping the bottom of it with her index finger.
“If you have a pimple brewing around your nose, and your fingers are slightly contaminated... and you pop the pimple, you may contaminate the area and it can spread.”
I know. Dr. Idriss went on to explain how an infected spot in the area by your nose can cause a serious infection, sharing that a surface infection can cause impetigo while a deeper infection runs the risk of becoming furunculosis.
Both conditions are highly contagious. “You do not touch this person,” Dr. Idriss said while pointing to pictures of people with both conditions.
And while impetigo typically isn’t dangerous, complications can include cellulitis and kidney issues (ahhh).
Furunculosis is also usually safe, but “Rarely, the infection in the skin can get into the bloodstream, leading to serious illness” ― and given how close that triangle of death is to the brain, you’re much better safe than sorry.
“And you may start to feel more systemically ill — a fever, shaking, chills. If this starts to happen, see a doctor as soon as you can for diagnosis and treatment.”
Anyway, I’m off to purchase some spot patches and bin my home extraction kit.
Watch the horrifying video for yourself below: