Skin

Updated 18 December 2017

Man gets gross infection after popping zit with woodwork blade

Here's another reason why you should not pop your pimples... Warning: This article contains graphic content.

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Dermatologists have been warning people against popping pimples for the longest time.

A 23-year-old construction worker from Chicago probably wishes he had followed that advice after contracting a severe, painful fungal skin infection.

A series of warts

He contracted a skin infection after scraping at a zit on his face with a woodwork blade.

The man then let the ensuing wound fester for seven months before reporting to the emergency room – during which time a series of warts, the same size as his lower lip, developed.

The case study was featured in the Journal of Emergency Medicine and according to the report the lesion primarily consisted of blood-crusted warts. After conducting tests on the warts, doctors discovered an unusual organism, classified as blastomyces dermatitidis, growing in the warts. 

One shouldn't pop a pimple, and a dermatologist will always use sterile equipment when performing any such procedure. In this man's case the dirty woodwork blade definitely increased his risk of contracting a fungal infection. 

Localised infection

Blastomyces dermatitidis is a fungus which is known to cause infection in humans and thrives in soil and wet, rotting wood, located around water. Woodwork equipment is is sometimes kept under such or similar conditions. 

The fungus is more commonly known to cause blastomycosis, which is the result of inhaling its spores.

Should you become infected, you may not show many symptoms, but there is a possibility of the the following:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Coughing
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint, chest and back pain

Serious cases could result in the infection spreading to organs, skin, bones and the central nervous system.

The man reported none of these conventional symptoms and his infection appeared to be restricted to his lip.

guy with fungal infection

Correct topical treatment

After running numerous tests to make sure that the fungus had not affected any other part of his body, doctors sent him home with antifungal medication. The infection cleared up within two weeks.

Dermatologists maintain that pimples should not be popped and should be managed with the correct topical treatment.

This is not only to avoid further inflammation, scabbing and scarring, but also to avoid exposing your skin to bacteria which could ultimately result in nasty infections – and possibly even landing you in an emergency room with an unpleasant fungal infection.

Image credit: iStock

 

Ask the Expert

Skin expert

Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

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