Several months ago, Katie Wright started feeling pain near her eyebrow and noticed a blemish. She tried not to pick at it. But after a few days, it looked bigger and uglier. It never formed a head or started shrinking so she decided to help it. When she got out of the shower, she tried popping it, hoping it would go away.
As the pain intensified she put an ice pack on it, took some ibuprofen, and tried resting. After a night of fitful sleep, she woke up to a frightening sight. Her face was so swollen that her features looked distorted. And, the blemish was oozing.
“I could barely open my eyes,” she said. “The difference in my face it was unreal.”
Wright went to the emergency room at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, where doctors looked at the swollen ooze blemish and knew exactly it was — cellulitis.
“I was unaware of how serious it was,” she said.
Cellulitis is a skin infection caused by bacteria, such as streptococcus or staphylococcus. People carry this bacteria on their skin and it only becomes dangerous when it enters an opening in the skin, such as a popped pimple, cut, or bug bite. It spreads quickly and if it spreads to the eyes or the brain it can cause loss of vision or brain damage.
“I didn’t know that cellulitis could spread to your brain or eyes,” Wright said.
Dermatologist Dr. Adam Friedman, who didn’t treat Wright, said he commonly sees patients with infections from skin picking, popping pimples, scratching bug bites, and using dirty make-up brushes.
“It is very easy to get an infection,” he said. “We have over 500 species of bacteria of the skin. When you break the skin, you are putting all the bacteria in the skin.”
Friedman urges people to clean their make-up brushes, toss expired makeup, and to not pop pimples their pimples. Despite the warning, people pop pimples anyway.
“Hands down, you will certainly get scars if you pick at your acne,” Freidman said. “If you are going to do it, do it with clean with hands. You are creating a wound.”
In Wright’s case, she suspects she contracted staph through hair follicle in her eyebrow. She believes a dirty eyebrow spoolie, the brush attached to her eyebrow pencil, introduced the bacteria.
“Where I made my mistake … I separate my brushes from my product to wash them. I threw my eyebrow pencil with my products instead of taking the spoolie with it to clean,” she said.
In the future, leave something like this up to professionals like this one: