This Woman Ended Up With an Abscess on Her Butt Thanks to a Too-Tight Thong

Learn why abscesses form and how they're treated.

Hillary Zinks had no idea what was causing the pain on her butt for weeks—even her mom couldn't see anything when she carried out a quick inspection (as moms do). It wasn't until Zinks went to the ER that she found out she had an abscess on her butt.

An abscess is a pocket of pus—a mixture of white blood cells, germs, and dead tissue—caused by an infection, according to the National Library of Medicine's resource MedlinePlus.

As if that wasn't enough of a surprise, the healthcare provider explained that it had been caused by her thong...and while treating it, added, "Thank God you came in because this can kill you."

Yep, that's right. Apparently Zinks's thong caused a tiny cut on her butt, which turned into something pretty serious, as Zinks revealed in a TikTok video titled, "How a THONG Sent Me to the Emergency Room."

Abscesses can occur almost anywhere in your body, per MedlinePlus, but skin abscesses like the one Zinks experienced are usually painful and tender, making them the easiest to detect.

"One day I was out of town and I noticed my butt started to hurt," Zinks said in the video. "Right above my crack. I had no idea why. On the plane ride home I couldn't even sit straight, I kept moving like I had hemorrhoids or something."

hands holding thong underwear in front of Emergency room sign

"I told the story to let people know that when you have strange symptoms and you have no idea how they started, it's a good idea to get it checked out," Zinks told BuzzFeed.

But we're all wondering how, exactly, a tiny thong caused so much damage, right? Zinks shed some light on the mystery. "The thong was too tight on me," she told Buzzfeed. "I remember the exact moment it happened: I pulled up my pants and also pulled my thong, and I pulled it a little too hard/high. I felt a small pinch, but the pain went away almost instantly. I didn't connect the incident to the thong until I went to the doctor and he asked me if I wore them. Then I remembered that moment."

According to dermatologist Angelo Landriscina, MD, an abscess is a localized infection of the skin, most commonly caused by bacteria. Viruses or parasites can also lead to abscesses, per MedlinePlus.

It is similar to a pimple, but it's larger and deeper under the skin, according to a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) patient page on abcesses published in 2018.

"A primary feature differentiating abscesses from other skin infections is that they take the form of a collection of pus walled-off from surrounding tissues," Dr. Landriscina told Health. "They can become very inflamed with redness, warmth, swelling, and tenderness at the site."

Though there's nothing specific about a thong that makes it a risk factor for abscesses, it could certainly cause a small cut in the skin from friction against the skin if it's too tight—which could then become infected. Any injuries to the skin such as cuts, abrasions, injections, or tattooing, may allow an entry point.

Other conditions that can predispose someone to form abscesses are diabetes, according to a 2021 review in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, or having a weakened immune system.

"Staphylococcus aureus strains ('staph'), including MRSA, are a common cause of abscesses, and some people may be colonized with staph—they may develop recurrent abscesses," Dr. Landriscina added. "This type of bacteria can also be passed from person to person. But for many people, an inciting factor for abscess formation can't be identified."

Most people actually carry staph bacteria on their skin and do not develop infections, according to JAMA, but a cut or wound can offer an entry site for the bacteria to penetrate the skin.

While thong-induced abscesses may not be common, the groin/anorectal area is a fairly typical abscess site, Dr. Landriscina said. "The warmth and moisture found in this area make it easy for bacteria to grow," Dr. Landriscina explained.

Some abscesses drain or resolve on their own while others need to be drained via a surgical procedure (this is what Zinks had). "During this procedure, we numb the skin over the abscess and make a small incision in it in order to let the pus evacuate from the abscess," Dr. Landriscina said. Recovery takes a few weeks, and you'll have to wear a bandage over the area and keep it clean and dry while the skin heals.

Butt abscesses aren't things we discuss much, which is why Zinks wanted to share the experience. "People don't talk about it because they think it's gross," Zinks told Buzzfeed, and noted her surprise that many comments were from people who could relate to the experience. "I did not expect that at all."

Zinks also received many messages—mostly from women—thanking her for sharing the story, with some saying they set up a doctor's appointment to get a similarly painful yet mysterious bump on their body checked out.

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