Her story will make you rethink your underwear choices.

By Claire Gillespie
October 30, 2020
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Credit: Getty Images

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. As if that wasn't enough of a surprise, the doctor explained that it had been caused by her thong...and while he was treating it, he 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 she revealed in a TikTok video titled, "How a THONG Sent Me to the Emergency Room."

"One day I was out of town and I noticed my butt started to hurt," she 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."

"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. "A primary feature differentiating abscess from other skin infections is that they take the form of a collection of pus walled-off from surrounding tissues," Dr. Landriscina tells 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. The more common things that can predispose someone to forming an abscess are diabetes, conditions that cause a weakened immune system, and first-line injuries to the skin such as cuts, abrasions, injections, or tattooing.

"Staphylococcus aureus strains ('staph'), including MRSA, are a common cause of abscess, and some people may be colonized with staph—they may develop recurrent abscesses," Dr. Landriscina adds. "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."

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

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 says. 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 her experience. "People don't talk about it because they think it's gross," she told Buzzfeed. "If you read the comments [in my video], the amount of people who can relate is insane. I did not expect that at all." She also received many messages—mostly from women—thanking her for sharing her story, with some saying they set up a doctor's appointment to get a similarly painful yet mysterious bump on their body checked out.

This story originally appeared on health.com

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