This is what the ‘danger triangle’ on your face actually is

Jessica Brown@Jessica_E_Brown
Saturday 26 November 2016 09:15
news

A viral video warning people not to pluck or trim nose hairs because it can kill you has been disputed by a leading ear, nose and throat doctor. He says it's no more than a publicity stunt.

The area between the mouth and nose has been dubbed the ‘danger triangle,’ by an otologist, who says this area can pass infections to the brain. This is because the same veins that carry blood out of the nose meet with veins that carry blood out from the brain.

Dr Erich Voigt explains in this Business Insider video:

The nose filters all the air we breathe in and the first filter are actually the hairs that are present. They’re called vibrissae. 

The vibrissae, are helpful filters for large particles. It may be a problem when people trim those hairs too close, or if they pluck them, because there are germs that live at the base of the hair follicles and when the hair follicles are pulled out, the germs can go into that space and induce an infection.

Those infections are extremely dangerous and they can be lethal. The veins that drain the blood from the nose drain posteriorly to the same veins that go to drain the brain so the germs can travel from the front to the back from those veins and induce meningitis or brain abbesses.

It’s called the danger triangle.

But this, according to leading Harley Street otologist Gerald Brookes, is rubbish. He told Indy100 that the issue has been "overblown":

In my opinion there is no connection between plucking or trimming nasal hairs and local nasal infections, whilst the chances of any infection spreading to cause meningitis is remote. 

People can develop nasal tip infections from boils around the nostril hairs but that is invariably related to colonisation of the nasal skin with 'unfriendly' staphlococcal bacteria, not to hair trimming. 

Most cases of meningitis and frontal lobe brain abscesses, which from my 25-year experience at the National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery, Queen Square, where many of the cases would be preferentially referred for specialist treatment, are very rare, and  are secondary to suppurating untreated sinus infections. 

In contrast, the nasal tip is equisitely sensitive and a local infection due to a boil around a hair follicle will cause severe pain early on, prompting the patient to seek antibiotic treatment much sooner rather than later.  I seriously think therefore that it would almost impossible for an simple infection like this to cause a septicaemia and intra-cranial complications.  

Brookes says the video has 'grossly exaggerated' a theoretical problem, rather than a clinical one.

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