- Popping a pimple in a certain area of your face can lead to brain infection.
- This area, called the triangle of death, covers the mouth and nose.
- Dermatologists never recommend popping your pimple.
No matter how tempting it can be, you should avoid popping your pimples, especially on your face. Specifically, doctors warn against popping pimples on a particular area on your face called the “triangle of death”.
Below, learn what dermatologists say about the “triangle of death”, why you should keep your hands off it, and how you can safely pop pimples on your face.
What is the ‘triangle of death’?
According to Joshua Zeichner, MD, a dermatologist at Mount Sinai in New York, the triangle of death is “the area of the face connecting the nose to the corners of the mouth”. This area is thought to be a particularly dangerous area because of its close connection to the brain, says Zeichner.
You can see this area by forming a triangle with your fingers: connect the tips of your thumbs, then connect the tips of your pointer fingers. On your face, the triangle’s base will cover the area from the corners of your mouth, and the tip will end at the bridge of your nose.
What happens when you pop pimples in the ‘triangle of death’?
While the “triangle of death” might sound a little exaggerated, it’s something you should take seriously.
Dr. Zeichner explains that the cavernous sinus is a large vein that drains blood to the brain, and connects our outside to our inside. This means that an infection in a pimple on your nose can reach your brain. For this reason, Alok Vij, MD, a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic, warns that any infection in that area poses a bit of a higher risk.
If you pick on a pimple and it becomes infected, the worst thing that can happen is for the infection to spread from the skin through the cavernous sinus, potentially infect the brain, and spread through the bloodstream and into the entire body, explains Dr. Zeichner.
Touching the pimples on that area can also increase the chance of scarring, says Dr. Vij.
Is there a way to safely pop pimples?
Dermatologists know how hard it can be for people to keep their hands off their pimples. So, while popping a pimple is still not recommended, there are a few ways you can do to lessen its risk.
First of all, make sure to never touch your pimples in the triangle of death region. But if you really can’t resist popping a zit in that area of your face, consider when to do it. Dr. Zeichner says to consider it like a surgical procedure.
In other words, you should do this with your full attention. Dr. Vij recommends washing your hands thoroughly before popping, making sure that the spaces underneath your fingernails are clean because it’s a good hiding place for bacteria. Better yet, cut your nails before popping a zit, says Dr. Zeichner. Next, clean the skin of your face, and apply some warm compresses to it before you start popping your pimples. Dr. Zeichner warns not to pick the top of the zit off, but to “apply even, downward pressure around the pimples.” Use a cotton swab or the soft part of your fingertip for the procedure. He also says to stop picking on your pimple if the blockage does not come out easily. He also reminds that after-care is crucial in pimple-popping. He says to apply a topical antibiotic ointment like bacitracin to the open skin after popping.