I cannot stand to see a whitehead or field of ingrained black dirt and grime on my face, or anywhere else on my body.
I was once so terrible about picking bumps on my face that I regularly turned a clear-ish complexion into one riddled with red spots and scabs.
Unfortunately, I can't stop there-I end up picking the scabs, too.
Recently, this awful habit caught up with me in a scary way.
I noticed a whitehead forming on my left cheek and, though I tried, I couldn't help but push on it, even though I knew it wasn't "ready.
" Over a two day period, the spot grew larger and more painful.
No amount of picking or compression would relieve the pressure.
Soon, the entire side of my face was swollen and tender; from three inches above my ear to the center of my throat and from my nose to two inches behind my ear, in my scalp.
The pain was so intense that even a light touch made me scream.
My self-esteem also took a huge hit because I felt I looked like a monster.
Finally, I went to an urgent care facility near my home.
The doctors knew what the trouble was right away: MRSA, or Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
MRSA, once found in mostly in medical settings, it's now showing up in gyms, schools, the military, or anywhere else people are in close contact.
This type of MRSA is called Community-Associated MRSA (CA-MRSA).
Though most healthy people will quickly recover from MRSA, this bacterial infection can spread easily and be deadly.
MRSA normally only affects the skin but it can also enter your bloodstream and move into your organs if left untreated.
The really bad news is this type of infection is difficult to get rid of because, as its name suggests, it is resistant to many antibiotics.
On top of everything else MRSA can be quite painful, take weeks to heal, and leave ugly scars.
MRSA may also lead directly to the flesh-eating affliction known as necrotizing fasciitis.
With MRSA, cleanliness is everything.
That means washing hands often, keeping fingernails short and clean, not sharing personal hygiene items, sanitizing surfaces of any shared equipment, avoiding contact with open wounds, keeping wounds clean and bandaged, and not picking acne or any other open lesion.
It is easy to facilitate the spread of MRSA if it's under your fingernails and those nails are used to pop zits, scratch bug bites, or pick scabs.
Even picking your nose is off limits: it's estimated that a third of the population has staph bacteria in their nose at any given time.
If you suspect you may have MRSA, go to your doctor right away.
They can do lab tests to be certain, will likely prescribe heavy doses of antibiotics, and will ask you to apply damp-heat to the abscess several times a day.
(The damp heat will help the infected tissues soften, come to the surface, and discharge.
) I realize this is a difficult task for some of us, so if you must pick be sure to clip and clean your nails and wash your skin thoroughly before and after touching each spot.
Or, try using Q-tips instead of your fingers and nails.
The best bet, though, to avoid MRSA is to keep your hands away from your acne!