can popping pimples kill you

Photo: NAS CRETIVES/Shutterstock

Sounds like a crazy question, doesn’t it? Turns out it’s not so crazy.

If you’ve ever been a teenager (which I will go out on a limb and say that most of you were), you’re all too familiar with the following scenario: You start to notice a bump forming just above your lip. Or maybe it’s on your chin. Or your nose. Then you start to feel a pus-filled whitehead forming and you can’t wait to get to a mirror (let’s hope at home) to pop the hell out of that sucker. Chances are that you’ve popped a pimple or two in your day, and may even still do it as an adult. But dermatologists say that you should resist the urge.

That’s because popping pimples can leave you with scars, or worse, an infection. When you pop a pimple, you’re actually tearing open your skin in the process. You’re also introducing bacteria from your hands into the open wound, which can therefore become infected, leave a permanent scar, or make you very ill.

In fact, there’s something called “the triangle of death” on your face — it’s so called because getting an infection in this area can cause you to die. How so? Blood vessels in this area drain to the back of your head, at the base of your brain. This area also opens up to the sinuses. If not treated right away, an infection in your sinus cavity can be very serious, leading to paralysis, loss of vision, or even death. That’s a mighty good reason to keep your hands off those pimples, wouldn’t you say?

It’s because these veins around the nose, mouth and eyes are so close to the brain that bacteria introduced to your face basically gives those bacteria free rein to wreak havoc. A cut on your finger wouldn’t necessarily be quite as dangerous.

Another thing to avoid? Pulling out your nose hairs. The nose is full of harmful bacteria that is trapped there by tiny hairs called cilia. They’re there to prevent the bacteria from getting further into our body so, in a sense, a nose full of hair is actually your best line of defense against airborne infection. Of course, if hairs start sticking out of your nose and you must trim (and yes, you must), it’s best to use an electronic hair trimmer that gently trims the hairs as opposed to yanking them out at the root, causing your nose to bleed.

Try to take the following precautions if you can: Keep your nasal passages clear. If you must dislodge that booger from your nose, use a tissue. And avoid popping pimples on your face or picking at scabs there too. If you do start to notice an infection, make sure to seek treatment from a doctor right away.

Oh, and one last thing. Don’t pick your nose. As gross as it may sound to some, it’s practically a job for others (like that guy sitting in the car to the right of mine at the red light the other day). And picking your nose can introduce the same bacteria to your brain just as fast as popping a pimple can. So stay healthy, and keep your hands off of your face.

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