It can be tempting to pop pimples as soon as they surface, but it there's a good reason why folks should be very careful about how they do that -- as illustrated by the unfortunate experience of a 23-year-old construction worker who landed in the hospital with a gruesome infection for popping one in an unusual way. (Warning: the photo below is graphic.)
The man, who was otherwise completely healthy before the incident, had a pimple on his lower lip that he was tired of, so he grabbed a woodworking blade and sliced it open, according to an entry from The Journal of Emergency Medicine.
Over the next seven months, the lesion grew in size, progressively getting worse and worse. Eventually, a thick mass of scabbed, protruding bumps lined his lower lip, and he found himself in a Chicago hospital because of it.
A dermatologist determined that he suffered from a Blastomyces conidia fungal infection, or blastomycosis, which often comes from soil and areas where animals live near the Great Lakes, the Ohio River basin and the Mississippi River, notes Daily Mail. He made a full recovery over the course of two weeks.
The fungus is usually transmitted when people breathe in microscopic spores containing it, particularly after kicking up or otherwise disturbing the soil in some way.
Symptoms tend to show up within three weeks thereafter, although the Chicago patient said he experienced none of the usual ones associated with blastomycosis like chills, weight change, pain or shortness of breath.
He also said that he had not traveled anywhere, did not know anyone who was ill, and did not have any pets.
The man's experience is one of just 50 known cases in which a victim caught the infection in such a manner. Dermatologists believe this is the first time it has spread through a woodworking tool.
"[Blastomycosis] is usually observed in laboratory or morgue workers, and less frequently in dog handlers after a bite or scratch," medical workers wrote in the journal, according to Daily Mail.
The malady is not contagious from person to person or animal to person, though dogs are also susceptible to it, notes the CDC. There is no vaccine or known way to prevent exposure, though anyone with a compromised immune system is advised to avoid disrupting soil in areas where it is common.
It is usually treatable with antifungal medication, while more severe cases involving the lungs or multiple body parts might call for more aggressive treatment and can take up to a year to heal.
Sources: Journal of Emergency Medicine, Daily Mail, CDC (2) / Featured Image: Saluda Programa de Salud/Flickr / Embedded Images: Journal of Emergency Medicine, CDC Public Health Image Library via Wikimedia Commons