A man nearly died after he squeezed an acne pimple on the part of his face between his lips and his nose known as the Triangle of Death that doctors warn is “dangerous” as it can flow back into the skull and cause infections inside the person’s cranial cavity where the brain is located.
The patient, named Mr Tang, 47, had been suffering from a headache for two weeks after popping the spot. He was taken to the Second People’s Hospital of Hunan Province due to severe brain lesions and swelling. He was conscious at the time of his admission but his reactions were low and his body temperature was 39.3 degrees Celsius.
The doctor’s examination revealed that Mr Tang was suffering from an intracranial infection, multiple brain abscesses, and pus building up inside his brain.
The area had become badly infected and the condition was deemed critical and life-threatening.
Mr Tang said: “There was a pimple on my face. I squeezed it easily. I had been squeezing it before because of itching and pain but this time was different.”
The doctor said that a boil had developed in a “dangerous” part of his face as a result of the popping of the spot, and that people should not squeeze spots with their hands when they find one between their mouth and their nose.
Zhou Gaoya, chief physician of the Intensive Care Unit of Neurology Department of Hunan Second People’s Hospital, said: “The triangle from both sides of the mouth to the root of the nose is called the dangerous triangle of the face. The blood circulation in the face is very rich, and the criss-crossing blood vessels shuttle through the facial muscles. When the muscles contract, blood can flow back into the skull.
“Therefore, if an infection occurs on the face, especially when a boil develops from both sides of the mouth corner to the triangle of the root of the nose, so you must not squeeze it with your hands. Otherwise, the bacteria in the boil can retrogradely spread to the cavernous sinus in the cranial cavity. It is easy to cause a brain abscess.”
She also reminded people that a brain abscess is a serious life-threatening intracranial infectious disease. When it happens, pathogens erode and destroy brain tissue, “causing localised purulent inflammation and tissue necrosis, and then forming a necrotic abscess cavity”.
She said the disease is an acute and serious condition, which can be life-threatening, and should not be underestimated.
A similar case took place in January this year when a man, named as Mr Chen, from eastern China’s Jiangsu Province ended up fighting for his life in the ICU with double pneumonia after popping a pimple under his lips.
Dr Zhu, who treated Mr Chen, said that he had a “mouth infection which initially triggered double pneumonia and collapsed lungs”, adding that his “condition was critical.”
Dr Zhu added that Mr Chen’s infections developed after he popped the zit on his chin, which is part of an area known as the ‘Triangle of Death’.
The ‘Triangle of Death’, which is also called the Danger Triangle, stretches from the tip of a person’s nose to a point on either side of the lips, roughly where dimples usually appear.
Dr Zhu warned that picking at skin inside this danger zone can have serious implications for a person’s overall health.
Popping a zit inside the danger triangle is a cause for concern due to the blood supply in this part of the face, according to Jeremy Brauer, clinical professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Centre.
He said that the veins behind our eye sockets lead back to the ‘cavernous sinus’, located in the brain. He added that when we pop zits, dirt from our hands and airborne bacteria can infect the open wound and this can trigger a serious infection.
The veins behind our eyes create clots to deal with infections, which in turn adds pressure on the brain. This can lead to partial or full paralysis and sometimes even death.