Infections on the face can be dangerous. Especially if they are in the dangerous area of the face
“There is a DANGEROUS area on the face?”
“What does dangerous mean in this case?”
“Is that real terminology?”
“How is anything on the face dangerous?”
Questions like these are asked by horrified parents when they are informed that an infection on their child’s face has now turned life threatening.
So yes – this is real medical terminology. There is an area on the face that is dangerous – and in this case dangerous means that it can actually endanger your child’s life if you are not very careful and vigilant.
Where is the dangerous area of the face?
The dangerous area of the face is a triangular area in the center of the face. The base of this triangle is formed by the mouth. The apex of the triangle is the midpoint between the two eye brows.
So if a straight line is drawn to represent the mouth. And two straight lines are drawn that join the corners of the mouth to the spot that lies in the center of the two eyebrows. The area that is now enclosed between these lines is a triangle. And this triangular area is called the dangerous area of the face
Why is the dangerous area of the face dangerous?
The veins that drain the dangerous area of the face carry blood straight from there to an area of the brain called the cavernous sinus that is present just above the nose inside the brain. In the same way that blood is carried from the face to the brain – infections are also carried from the face to the brain. Brain infections are extremely serious and can have disastrous consequences. Brain infections can make children very sick and also result in death.
So any infection on the upper lip, any infection in the nose and any infection on the skin in between the eyebrows can be dangerous.
Dangerous is a very appropriate word in this situation.
An infection in this area of the face must be treated as dangerous because if left untreated can sometimes – in a matter of hours – reach the brain. And a brain infection if left unrecognized, undiagnosed and untreated – can be rapidly fatal.
What must parents be alert about?
- Infections on the face
- Infections in the nose
- Injuries to the face
What are face infections and how do they happen
Infections like boils are extremely common in this triangular area of the face.
This area of the face is full of sweat and sebaceous glands. In countries like India – when it is hot these glands constantly secrete sweat and sebum. Feeling sweaty and sticky is not pleasant at all – and so children are naturally inclined to wipe this area of the face frequently. Because children are playing outside – their hands are frequently quite dirty and full of germs. When the dirt and germs are carried to the face by the hands – they quickly enter the openings in the skin and cause infections like boils.
Boils are painful and irritating and make children want to poke and prod them with their fingers and finger nails. This results in the boil getting worse because of the dirt in the fingernails – and this leads to deeper infections.
Injuries in the dangerous area of the face
Injuries are also common on this area of the face – especially in children. This is because children are just learning how to walk and run and they fall often. And when they fall their reflexes are usually not sharp enough to make them put their hands in front of them to break the fall and prevent the face from hitting the ground. This results in children often having a large number of injuries on the face. The injuries of course are usually attended to promptly by parents.
However, after the first-aid is done – the injuries often take a long time to heal and go back to normal. The healing period is an unpleasant time because as the tissues that have broken during the injury regenerate and heal they cause itching on and around the wound.
Children being impatient and unaware of their actions often poke and prod these injuries with their fingers and finger nails while they are healing and this leads to infections.
Infected injuries are not easy to identify because of the already present wound. This why wound infections are often detected very late.
Infections of the nose
Infections of the nose usually occur because of nose picking. When children have colds as they frequently do – the discharge in the nose is irritates them. In hot dry countries like India – nasal discharge often dries up and forms crusts. To relieve themselves of this irritation children often prod their noses with their fingers and fingernails to pick out the crusts. It is therefore common to find Indian Parents complaining that their children have nose bleeding when it is very hot. It is in fact the poking and prodding that causes the bleeding.
When children pick their noses like this – in addition to causing bleeding – also they transfer dirt and germs lodged in their finger nails – to their noses. And this results in infections in the nose. The infections caused by nose picking are often inside the nose and so remain undetected until they become very large and painful.
What can you do to prevent infections of the dangerous area of the face?
It is extremely important to prevent infections of the dangerous area of the face.
Some of the things you can do to keep infections away are –
- Discourage nose picking – Children must be taught constantly that nose picking is a dirty habit and can also have dangerous consequences. They must be discouraged from digging their noses and corrected if they do pick their noses.
- Always keep your child’s nails clipped – The space under long finger nails is usually the place where a lot of dirt accumulates – especially in children because they play with mud and sand and dirt. The longer the finger nails are – the greater their chances of there being sharp or jagged edges on the nails. And the higher the chances of these sharp edges causing injuries inside the nose which can then get infected. Parents in India must be especially vigilant about trimming nails frequently.
- Treat colds early – children usually dig their noses when they have colds. The discharge formed during the cold – dries up and forms crusts which then irritate the nose and cause itching and sneezing.
- Treating colds early with saline nasal drops and steam inhalations can go a long way in preventing colds from becoming severe – producing lots of discharge which then crusts and irritates children and prompts them to dig their noses
- Wash hands frequently – The agents that carry the infection to the face are always the hands. An untouched face is highly unlikely to get infected. It is only when the face is touched with dirty hands do the germs find their way to the face. It is impossible to monitor children all the time and prevent them from touching their face – so the next best and easiest thing to do is – to ensure that children wash their hands frequently so that they do not carry as many germs as dirty hands would carry to the face.
What do infections in the dangerous area of the face look like?
Infections and injuries can be visible if they are present on the outer surface of the nose or lip.
If an infection or injury is seen – you must immediately take your child to the doctor.
However, some infections and injuries that may be present inside the nose may go undetected for a long time. A child who is frequently touching the nose, prodding the nose with his finger or complaining of any kind of pain must be taken to the doctor immediately.
An infection that is reported early can be easily treated with ointments. If the infection is more severe antibiotics are started as a syrup or tablet.
What are the symptoms of a brain infection?
If it is too late and the infection has already spread to the brain – the child may present with fever, may look disoriented and behave abnormally. He may complain of headache, neck pain, extreme drowsiness or fall unconscious.
In such cases the child must be rushed to the hospital immediately as he will require rapid resuscitation to recover
As the name denotes then – the infections of the dangerous area of the face can be really dangerous.
Stay vigilant – prevent infections and if infections or injuries happen – treat them immediately.
Be informed – stay safe.
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