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Does The Triangle of Death Mean I Should Never Pop a Pimple Again?

The term “Triangle of Death” may make you think of Iraq war strategies or the Bermuda triangle, but did you know this Danger Triangle is actually an area of the face?

There is a — somewhat substantiated — fear that popping a pimple in this region could kill you. While this concept is terrifying (even the term Triangle of Death is eerie!), understanding the anatomy behind the term is crucial before you jump the conclusion of never popping a pesky pimple again.

What is the Triangle of Death?

The triangle of death, sometimes called the Danger Triangle, is a triangular area of the face. Imagine drawing a line across your mouth, then diagonal lines from each corner of your mouth up to the area in between your eyebrows. The danger of this area isn’t directly related to popping pimples, but rather to the potential infection that messing with pimples may cause. Like any type of cut, blemish, or nick in the skin, popping a zit on any part of the body opens the skin and creates a risk of infection.

Behind this area, underneath the brain, is our cavernous sinus. The cavernous sinus contains blood vessels that supply both the brain and ophthalmic veins, which support the eyes. In other words, the activity in our cavernous sinus is directly related to our brain and nerve center. So, as you might imagine, an infection here could be very dangerous.

Theoretically, if there’s an infection in the Triangle of Death, it can spread to the cavernous sinus area. When an infection spreads, it typically causes swelling and compression. If swelling occurs near these vital vessels and nerves, it may lead to the creation of blood clots in the area, a life threatening infection called cavernous sinus thrombosis. Infections in the cavernous sinus can also lead to meningitis, loss of vision, stroke, or even death.

Although the Triangle of Death is real and based on anatomy and science, modern medicine allows doctors to use antibiotics and proper medication to treat any infection before it reaches the cavernous sinus. In other words, there’s a reason why we never hear about death or serious injury from popping a pimple on the upper lip or nose.

If you do have a pimple in this area that you’re itching to squeeze, be sure to pop it correctly. Namely, wash your hands thoroughly and use a sterilized needle and rubbing alcohol. However, if you are concerned or are experiencing more severe symptoms, you should always seek medical attention immediately.

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