Acne, and the zits it produces, is caused by a combination of 4 things: clogged pores, bacteria, inflammation and excessive oil. It turns out that men produce five times more oil than women, mostly from increased amounts testosterone in their blood. A giant pimple the day before a big event or meeting can make a man feel self-conscious and juvenile appearing. So, what can you do? First, in order to get rid of a zit, resist the urge to squeeze and pop it. Although this might make it look less noticeable in the short-term, your skin will be damaged in the long-term because whatever pus/blood you see come out, an equal amount (that you don’t see) actually gets forced under the skin.
Your skin then mounts an immune response that releases damaging enzymes, degrading your collagen. This can cause permanent pockmarks and acne scars. More importantly, never pop a pimple around the “danger zone” of the face, which includes the skin around the lower part of the nose and upper lip. This area is named because the adjacent muscles don’t have a barrier to bacteria and the veins do not have valves. Blood flow in the area thus flows both ways (whereas other veins contain valves and allow blood to flow one way only). Bacteria (mostly Staphylococcus sp.) and pus from a pimple that is forcefully squeezed or manipulated can travel via the facial veins and get “pushed up” to the inner structures of the brain. This can result in a severe brain infection and death.
Neck stiffness, fever and a headache are the first signs of a brain infection of this nature. A much better method is to gently apply a warm compress, such as a wet washcloth heated in a microwave, to the area for 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off for 3 cycles. The heat from the compress will soften the pimple and slowly bring it to a head without spilling the pus into the surrounding skin. The gentle nature of the compress will decrease the chance of a severe brain infection as well. To combat redness, apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to the bump.
This will decrease inflammation and constrict the blood vessels. If this doesn’t help, call Vorteil and one of our board-certified dermatologists will give you a Cortisone shot for acne into the infected area. Studies have shown this to be extremely effective for quick relief from acne cysts. A low dose of oral prednisone for acne and/or a short course of anti-inflammatory pills can also work well on a case by case basis.
Vorteil’s Bottom Line: Never pop a pimple near the nose and upper lip. For a big zit, apply less invasive measures for best results.
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