When former Dance Moms star Brooke Hyland posted a video to her TikTok page on 14 November, her eye was swollen shut because of a pimple.
The pimple was right near the edge of her eyebrow, which she admitted to popping the night before. Soon after posting, many commenters mentioned the pimple being in an area called “the triangle of death” and suggested that Hyland could have a staph infection.
After going to the doctor and being prescribed antibiotics, she took to the platform again to explain what the triangle of death actually is. The term refers to the area of a person’s face from the bridge of the nose down to the corners of the mouth.
Hyland said, while reading from an article, it’s “recommend not popping pimples anywhere on your face, but especially not in these areas. And that’s because there are blood vessels that have direct lines to your skull or brain that can lead to very serious infections that can spread very rapidly”.
The Cleveland Clinic describes the triangle of death or danger triangle as a “direct line to your brain” because of your cavernous sinus, which are the veins behind your eye sockets that drain blood from your brain.
When a person gets some kind of infection in this area, whether that be from a facial piercing or pimple, it has the ability to quickly travel up to a person’s brain, resulting in a much larger infection.
Although it is possible that an infection could lead to death, dermatologist Dr Alok Vij told the clinic that there aren’t high chances. “Thankfully, it’s relatively unlikely,” he said. “But whenever there’s a violation of the skin and interaction with bacteria, there’s always a possibility for infection, which can lead to greater health concerns.”
In some cases, the infection can lead to a blood clot in your cavernous sinus, which can cause further health complications such as “brain abscess (pus that causes swelling of your brain), brain infection, damage to your facial nerves, including paralysis of your eye muscles, meningitis, pneumonia, septic emboli (infected blood clots that travel through your bloodstream), and a stroke,” according to the Cleveland Clinic.
However, if the clot is caught early enough, it can be treated with antibiotics, the clinic reported.
Despite Dr Vij’s recommendation that people avoid popping pimples as a whole, the clinic shared suggestions about what to do if you happen to get a pimple in the triangle of death region.
If you are able to completely leave the pimple alone and let it heal on its own, that is preferable. But, if you are in a rush, there are other methods to safely speed up the healing process of pimples in the triangle of death area.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, you can apply a warm compress to the area for 10 to 15 minutes, which will help draw the pus to the surface. Pimple patches are also a good idea if the pimple has opened up. And, in some cases, a dermatologist can give a cortisone or antibiotic injection, in addition to helping through other methods if needed.
According to Dr Vij, if an infection appears, you should monitor your health within the first five to 10 days to see if any significant changes occur.
“The infection may start to get bigger, spreading to cover more of an area,” he told the Cleveland Clinic, “and you may start to feel more systemically ill — a fever, shaking, chills. If this starts to happen, see a doctor as soon as you can for diagnosis and treatment.”