Man Pops Pimple With Woodwork Blade, Gets Nightmare Infection

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A dermatologist performs a pimple extraction (Note: this is not done with a woodworking blade). Cheryl Ravelo-Gagalac/Reuters

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE APPEARS BELOW

A case in the Journal of Emergency Medicine tells the cautionary tale of a man who developed a pretty disturbing fungal infection across his face after he tried to "snip” what he believed was a pimple with a woodworking blade.

The 23-year-old man, who works in construction, thought he had a zit.

Like many people, he shirked the common wisdom that you shouldn’t try to pop your own pimples. Unlike many people, he used a woodworking blade to do so.

The result led to an infection that the case’s authors describe as a “large, heme-crusted, verrucous, erythematous plaque with a rolled, indurated border on the lower vermillion and cutaneous lips.” Translation: the infected area around his mouth was firm, appeared wart-like, and there was a lot of dried blood.

You can see a photo of it below. 

GrossPimpleCase The results of a man attempting to remove a pimple with a woodworking blade, as detailed in the Journal of Emergency Medicine. The Journal of Emergency Medicine

Picking at his face with a woodworking blade resulted in what’s known as primary cutaneous blastomycosis, a fungal infection of the skin. According to the Journal of Emergency Medicine, the greatest risk factor for developing the infection is contact with soil. There are less than 50 other documented cases of this kind of infection, which is “usually observed in laboratory or morgue workers.” Other cases have been caused by “tree bark trauma” as well as “grain elevator door-related trauma.”

So compulsive pimple poppers probably shouldn’t freak out (provided they’re not digging at their faces with gardening trowels or tools from their jobs in labs or morgues). But given that contact with soil is a risk (and there was a case of “tree-bark trauma” leading to this kind of infection), it doesn’t seem so strange that taking a woodworking blade to one’s face might lead to this kind of infection.  

The advice to not pop your own pimples comes from a much less severe consequence: it can lead to scarring on your skin. One could imagine that this bit of wisdom assumes that people are going after their zits with their own hands. You almost definitely don’t have to worry about this infection if that’s what you’re doing, in lieu of going straight from the morgue or the forest to the bathroom mirror without washing up first.  

According to the Journal, the man seemed to be doing a lot better two weeks after doctors had given him an antifungal drug, though they lost track of him soon after.

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