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SuperModelMD: My Pimples are Causing a Rift Between my Wife & Mother

Whenever you pop open a pimple, you essentially break open the skin and create an entry point for more bacteria and possible infection. A popped pimple in the “danger triangle” may potentially cause an infection that has the ability to extend to certain areas of the brain.

Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe

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Dear SuperModelMD,

I’m a 41-year-old man dealing with ongoing acne problems. I’m very surprised that I still even get these huge pimples all over my face and back, especially at this age. My wife often helps to pop my pimples whenever they appear, and this has been part of our morning routine for as long as I can remember. It really seems like the fastest way to help get rid of my pimples.

My mom was recently visiting us and witnessed my wife popping a huge pimple on my nose. She immediately started making a fuss and shouting that my wife needs to stop ruining my handsome face. It turned into yet another unnecessary argument between both of them. I’d like to know if there is actually any truth to my mom’s concern. Is there any real harm being done to my skin when my pimples are popped open?

-Pimple Popping Drama

***

Dear Pimple Popping Drama,

Don’t underestimate the amount of damage that can be done to the skin when you pop any pimple. This bad habit may actually harm your skin more than you realize.

First, you should understand that pimples can form when dead skin cells, excess oil, and bacteria (e.g., Propionibacterium acnes) clog the pores of the skin. This process is not exclusive to your adolescent years, and may still occur later in adulthood.

If you squeeze or pop open a pimple, then there is a good chance that an increased amount of bacteria may actually be inadvertently pushed far down into the pores of your skin. This can lead to the pimple remaining on your face much longer than anticipated, and even cause heightened irritation of the skin. Popping pimples can ultimately exacerbate your acne, since the bacteria may spread to other regions of the skin and cause even more pimples.

Remember, any manipulation of the skin in the form of pimple picking, squeezing, or popping may lead to other long term problems such as skin scarring, pit formation, and even hyperpigmentation of the affected area. You also mentioned that your wife popped a pimple on your nose. Well, this region of the face is part of what is referred to as the “danger triangle.” It’s an area including the bridge of the nose and extending toward the sides of the mouth. It contains certain blood supply that connects to the cavernous sinus region of the brain. Whenever you pop open a pimple, you essentially break open the skin and create an entry point for more bacteria and possible infection. A popped pimple in the “danger triangle” may potentially cause an infection that has the ability to extend to certain areas of the brain. Though the occurrence is quite rare, it is a very serious complication to keep in mind.

Nonetheless, if you have ongoing acne problems, picking at your pimples is not the solution; it’s really best for you to seek out treatment from a doctor.

***
Information on this Q&A column is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information to self diagnose or treat a health problem/disease, or prescribe any medication, or other treatment. If you suspect you have a medical problem, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Dr. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe is a Nigerian-American medical doctor and health expert. An internal medicine physician, speaker, and blogger, Dr. Nesochi has been featured and interviewed about a wide range of health-related topics by popular media outlets including CNN, Vogue, CNBC Africa, and more. Learn more about her on drnesochi.com and her blog supermodelmd.com.

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