August 17th, 2018

To Your Health: An extreme but good hand-washing reminder

By Gillian Slade on January 15, 2018.

If you have not heard of Dr. Pimple Popper, aka Dr. Sandra Lee, you are probably in the minority. Her YouTube videos go viral with millions of hits to watch this U.S. dermatologist remove pimples, blackheads and cysts. She however works in a sterile environment and she often remarks on a cautious approach around the nose area near the sinus cavity.

Recently there was a report of a 10-year-old girl in China who required brain surgery after an infection — the result of squeezing blackheads on her nose. According to the report her hands had not been washed and it triggered a significant bacterial infection that went untreated until it reached her brain through blood circulation. An inflamed area harboured an abscess full of pus.

News reports indicate the young girl had been running a fever for a couple of weeks, which had been attributed to possible flu symptoms, before things got really bad and she was taken to hospital.

An MRI then revealed the problem and a need for extensive surgery.

This story raises a couple of issues, the first being the need to thoroughly and frequently wash our hands with warm water and plenty of soap. That is good common sense even if you are not squeezing pimples on your nose.

I frequently see people take a bit of anti-bacterial gel on their hands and I wonder when last their hands had actually been washed.

It is easy to forget how easily we put hands our hands to our faces and spread a virus.

We are in the middle of a severe influenza season and we should all be on the bandwagon when it comes to washing our hands. It could protect you from getting the flu and also avoid spreading the virus.

Take it one step further and protect others in your home. When you are busy cleaning your home use hot soapy water and add a disinfectant. Wipe the surfaces that family members use regularly, like door and drawer knobs, faucets, toilets, counter tops, microwave door handle and the kettle.

Back to that little girl in China who ended up needing brain surgery from a bacterial infection. There is no need to become paranoid but it just makes sense to wash your hands and be extra careful when you are addressing issues such as pimples and blackheads around the nose area.

Here’s to clean hands and reducing the spread of viruses and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her at or 403-528-8635.

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