Popping Pimples On This Part Of Your Face Can Kill You

Beware of where you pop.

woman popping a pimple A's Images & Getty Images via Canva

I thought once I kissed my teenage years goodbye that I'd be kissing acne goodbye, too. While it's gotten better over the years, I'm still prone to the odd zit (or seven).

When it comes to acne, we all have certain spots where we are more likely to get a pimple. For some, acne appears when they hold their phone closest to their face. For me, it's always been around my nose and my upper lip.

But it turns out that I'm actually lucky to have made it out of these pimple-popping sessions alive.


Why? Because the central triangle of your face, which includes your nose and the upper lip, has another nickname in the medical community: the danger triangle.

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What is the triangle of death, or the danger triangle?

The triangle of death, also called the danger triangle, is a specific area on your face where many medical professionals warn against popping pimples.


The area includes the bridge of the nose and corners of the mouth.

You can find this zone on your own just by making a triangle with your two thumbs and pointer fingers. Touch the tips of your thumbs together and the tips of your pointer fingers together, and then place your pointer fingers above your nose and your thumbs just below your upper lip.

This is the zone known as the triangle of death, or the danger triangle of the face.

Triangle of deathPhoto: Flickr user SpooSpa, Face_of_SpooSpa.jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikipedia


Why is it dangerous to pop a pimple in this area of your face?

It's dangerous to pop a pimple in the danger triangle of the face — not because popping a zit in this area will leave a mark; in fact, it's much more dangerous.

​This is because if you pop a pimple here, it can actually lead to an infection in your brain.

That's right — popping a pimple in this area could literally kill you. It's highly unlikely, but technically possible.

Because the blood vessels in this area drain to the back of your head, if you innocently pop a pimple in the danger triangle and it becomes infected, this can lead to loss of vision, meningitis, a brain abscess, or even death.


(Yeah, I think I'll take the concealer over the potential death sentence, thank you very much.)

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You can pop all the pimples you want on your forehead, or attack the acne on your chin with ruthless abandon, but leave the deadly triangle alone. This triangle on your face is so death-prone that science and medicine had to give it this kind of ridiculous-sounding name.

Popping a pimple in this area can lead to septic cavernous sinus thrombosis. Long ago, this condition was a death sentence, but now we have medicine to help treat it.

However, septic cavernous sinus thrombosis can also lead to other more serious conditions like a brain abscess, a brain infection, damage to your facial nerves, paralysis of your eye muscles, meningitis, pneumonia, septic emboli, a staph infection, and even a stroke.


How to Safely Pop a Pimple

It's ridiculously tempting to pop your pimples during an outbreak of acne. In fact, many derive pleasure from watching others pop their pimples.

A majority of people just can't resist popping a juicy pimple that's ready to go, even if it is in the so-called danger triangle. But it's important to practice safely popping a pimple if you absolutely must take a go at it.

If you've got a pimple in the danger zone and have to get rid of it, though it's not recommended, there are lots of ways to do so without popping it.


First, apply a warm washcloth to open up the pores. Overnight drying creams are also a great option, along with just plain old steam (from a steam facial machine or just in the shower) to help pores open without putting dangerous force on your face.

Always be sure to wash your hands before putting them anywhere on your face, don't use your nails to pop a pimple, and always practice good aftercare if you've popped a zit. That means keeping the area clean, putting antibacterial cream on it, and not overpicking.

It's also a good idea to prevent pimples from forming in the first place. And if all else fails, see a dermatologist for help.

RELATED: What It Means If You Have Acne Around Your Mouth


Rebecca Jane Stokes is a freelance writer and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, and true crime.