Can Popping Pimples Kill You? Here's What To Know Before You Tackle Your Next Zit

You've probably heard that you're not supposed to mess with your zits because it could spread bacteria or even cause scarring or an infection. But what if it could actually do something much worse? What if popping pimples could kill you? Well that's kind of a scary thought. As if blemishing your skin and even causing pain in some cases weren't enough. But where did this idea that pimples are so awful they can actually lead to death come from?

Turns out, there is an area on your face known as the "Danger Triangle" or "Triangle of Death" which extends from the corners of your mouth to the bridge of your nose. According to, the reason for this name is that the blood vessels from this area drain back to the brain and the sinuses. If these vulnerable areas were to be met with an infection, it could lead to headaches, vision loss, paralysis, and in the worst cases, death. But could something as seemingly insignificant as popping a pimple on your nose or upper lip cause something as drastic and permanent as death? To find out how likely this actually is, I emailed with an expert.

Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and Assistant Clinical Professor for the Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center, let me in on what exactly would need to happen for a pimple to turn from annoying to deadly. While Dr. Tanzi confirms that popping a pimple in the "Danger Triangle" could indeed have a lethal result, she notes, "it would be extremely rare and not by popping a common zit."

What would actually need to happen in that deadly section of your face to result in a lethal side effect is a large infection, or boil, festering and draining back into the brain. Dr. Tanzi further explains, "a large boil is an infection and can look like a large zit (which it isn't) and if not treated, could become dangerous in that area of the face." Therefore, the only way popping a zit could really cause death is if the site becomes infected and goes untreated.

So if you do notice a boil in your "Danger Triangle," make sure to have it properly treated so as to avoid some much-more-serious consequences. But as far as your regular, everyday zits? While you should still try to keep your hands off for other reasons, and use proper pimple-popping techniques if you go for it anyway, as Dr. Tanzi reports, "popping a regular zit in that area isn't going to kill anyone." Of course, if you do notice something that causes concern, don't hesitate to contact your doctor or dermatologist. But for the most part, don't worry, you probably don't have any deadly, killer pimples.

Image: Miki Hayes; Bustle