healthHealth and Medicine

What Is The "Danger Triangle Of The Face" And Is It Real?


Rachael Funnell


Rachael Funnell

Digital Content Producer

Rachael is a writer and digital content producer at IFLScience with a Zoology degree from the University of Southampton, UK, and a nose for novelty animal stories.

Digital Content Producer

danger triangle of the face

Got a spot inside this triangle? Best leave it alone. Image credit: Roman Samborskyi / / IFLS

If the overwhelming popularity of Dr Pimple Popper taught the world anything, it’s that some of us love messing with zits – but there’s one place on your face where you should be cautious about squeezing infected pores. We’re talking about the danger triangle of the face – and yes, it's real.

The nasolabial triangle, as the danger triangle of the face is also known, sits between the bridge of your nose and your lips. Where the danger aspect comes in is to do with its vasculature as it’s possible (though rare) that an infection here can spread to the brain.


What is the danger triangle of the face?

The danger triangle of the face stretches from the corners of the mouth to the bridge of the nose in a triangular shape (surprise, surprise). Here, the ophthalmic veins connect a vein on the front of the face to a hollow space beneath the brain called the cavernous sinus.

The cavernous sinus is paired, one for each eye, and connects to blood vessels at the base of the brain. This is the normal anatomy of the head, but it means that a path exists between the danger triangle of the face and the brain which infections can travel through. Without treatment, these can be fatal.

Why you shouldn’t mess with the danger triangle of the face

Say you wake one day to find a pesky pimple has erected a pustulous tent beneath your nose, and you decide to try and burst it. Pimples that are not yet ready to give up their space on your face can sometimes go deeper if you push on them, increasing the capacity for infection to spread.

Should pathogens begin to spread within the danger triangle of the face, they can hitch a ride via your ophthalmic veins to the cavernous sinus and even the brain. This can lead to potentially fatal conditions such as a blood clot in the cavernous sinus, a brain abscess, or meningitis.

Things to avoid in the danger triangle of the face

Common culprits that trigger the disastrous, infected chain of events include cellulitis and boils caused by bacterial infections around a hair follicle. This is why some suggest you should avoid plucking unwanted nose hairs.

Deep spots are also a potential trigger – though it’s important to note again that this is very rare, and pimples left alone will usually fade away without complication. Since some teeth sit within the danger triangle of the face, dental abscesses can also be a worry, so as always it’s good to keep on top of your brushing.

If you’re concerned about a possible infection within the danger triangle of the face, contact your healthcare provider for advice.


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