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View Poll Results: Please read the post before choosing an option!
Grab a knife & keep squeezin' the cheese - it has to come out eventually! 0 0%
Leave it alone and hope it goes away (or lessens dramaticly as it has in the past, even if it reoccurs later) 3 20.00%
See a doctor - (please recommend smaller clinics that may specialize in this, rather than a huge scary hospistal) 11 73.33%
Click here to yell at me for not having health insurance. 3 20.00%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 15. You may not vote on this poll

 
 
Old 04-15-2010, 03:19 PM
 
Location: I'm not lost, I'm exploring!
3,403 posts, read 9,277,512 times
Reputation: 5614

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Welcome to my world of self-proclaimed online diagnosis (a.k.a. no health insurance!)

I am relieved to anonymously advertise that I have a sebaceous cyst!
After bleeding the internet dry for every source of information possible, I am left at a crossroads. Do it myself? Or go see a doctor.

Background info!

It's a small hard lump that can form where most people shave/etc, they follow the same lineage as do infected hair follicles, abcesses, etc - but sebaceous cysts form where either of these family lines would usually disolve on their own, because they have become pushed deeper into the skin, or infected, which causes them to harden, and don't go away on their own easily. These 2 sites are hands down the best websites I've found for it yet, and I've had this little lump for over 2 years now, so I've been looking for awhile!

(disclaimer: it was medically diagnosed as a cyst formed from an infected hair follicle over a year ago, when I originally freaked out and had a full blood panel STD screening performed, much to my releif - so we can eliminate any doubt there)

How to diagnose and treat sebaceous cysts | Viva Woman

a P i N - Sebaceous Cyst - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

(no, I am not a procrastinater by nature, the lump comes and goes getting smaller then larger, then all-but disappearing, then reappearing - and within the past 2 months it has announced it seems to be here to stay, large and in charge!)

My question to you good people is, how comfortable are you with home remedies? I've read all about the hot compresses, and oils, and various fruits and vegetables that I can lay over the skin to "draw" whatever is underneath there out, or to form a head so it can begin draining... none of it's working.

I picked up a bottle of "Ichthammol" earlier this week. I had to call 3 different Walgreens before I found one who had it. This is black thick paste that smells like tar. But it's a drawing salve. I kept globbing it on, covering it with gauze (and a bandaid family to ensure it would survive my work-day) - but fast forward to 3 days later, and I have mixed feelings. For one, I didn't apply the tar today before I left for work, I'm not happy with the results, or lack thereof.
But on the other hand... whatever it is that's in there (the substance of dewm) is much closer to the surface than it used to be, and is most definately a prominent lump now that can be easily distinguished, -where as before, you had to feel for it. So it sort of worked, but it sort of didn't.

So... I stabbed at it a few times. Got nothing but blood. Took a fresh (sterile) razor blade (the ones from exacto-knives, to be exact) but chickened out at the last minute. It doesn't matter how close it is to the surface, or how close it becomes as a result of the drawing salve I have been using up until today, if the substance contained in every sebaceous cyst is hard, and not "squeezable". - Are you grossed out yet? I'm trying not to get into too many details, but to put it plainly, it would be the same as trying to squeeze a block of cheese through a syringe. There's stuff there to come out - and there's plenty of holes (thanks to yours truly, none of them very deep though, ) but it's just not coming!

And coming from someone without health insurance at the moment, would you take time off to go to the hospital to try to talk them into lancing it, draining it, excavating it, medicating it, packing the wound, and send you on your way? Or would you keep at it on your own? It's not causing any complications, it's not painful (well it is right now, I've been mashing on it!) - it's not largely out of control - it's ... it's the size of a skittle! under the skin! And, like I said, this is something that has gradually formed from an infected hair follicle that I had diagnosed by a medical practitioner over a year ago. It comes and goes, enlargens, decreases, but here lately - has not been lessening in size, and has become very rock-hard and impossible to ignore.

Maybe I'll make this a poll. Hmmm.
I'm not against going to the hospital if I must. But this is neither life threatening or complicated, nor is it showing any signs of progressing or resulting in any other medically related issues - it just feels like after running the homeopathic strategies dry, I fear I will never be able to sucessfully treat it or care for it on my own. - Over a year now.. hmmph. I should've named my lump already.

Let's call it Bob.
Have you ever had Bob (or anyone from his family) take up residence with you for any length of time? What did you do to evict him, what measures did you take? Are you too squeamish to do it yourself?

The website (as well as the others I've scoured) all agree that they can be left alone to "disolve" on their own eventually sometimes, it's all a matter of personal preference. Sometimes they grow too large, and become infected and swollen and prohibit daily life functions, and must be surgically removed.
Well it's not that bad, it's just really beginning to bug me. It's a lump. It shouldn't be there. I don't know why I can't just slice right through my skin and DIG for it and scrape it out, blast the area with alcohol/hydrogen peroxide, gauze it up, and walk REALLY GINGERLY for the next week or so while it begins to heal. I want to. I really really want to! And I had the best of intentions when I sterlized the blade, locked the door, and sat there trying to steel my nerves - but I just couldn't.

- Here come's the poll! Read the website if you have time It's very hepful!

Last edited by Marylandkitten; 04-15-2010 at 03:32 PM..
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Old 04-15-2010, 03:36 PM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
16,426 posts, read 30,850,457 times
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I think most CVS and other chain drug stores have walk-in clinic now. Try one of them, they may be able to remove it for you. I had one on my chin removed many years ago - local anesthetic then out then 1 stitch. Never came back.
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Old 04-15-2010, 03:38 PM
 
Location: I'm not lost, I'm exploring!
3,403 posts, read 9,277,512 times
Reputation: 5614
Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthernBelleInUtah View Post
I think most CVS and other chain drug stores have walk-in clinic now. Try one of them, they may be able to remove it for you. I had one on my chin removed many years ago - local anesthetic then out then 1 stitch. Never came back.
It's funny you mention that, I just got off the phone with the CVS near where I work - their "Minute Clinic" doesn't do extraction or removal of cysts or abcesses. Only warts!

I tried Planned Parenthood and the Women's Clinic here as well, so far, no luck. I'm wracking my brain for any other options besides surrendering myself to a four hour wait at my local emergency room, and dropping a few hundred dollars for them to do it.
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Old 04-15-2010, 03:41 PM
 
2,579 posts, read 6,302,624 times
Reputation: 3680
Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthernBelleInUtah View Post
I think most CVS and other chain drug stores have walk-in clinic now. Try one of them, they may be able to remove it for you. I had one on my chin removed many years ago - local anesthetic then out then 1 stitch. Never came back.
Good idea but most of those Minute Clinics are staffed by NP's and they don't do procedures other than throat swabs. (Not saying an NP COULDN'T do this, just that these clinics aren't typically set up for procedures)

An Urgent Care center might work though....

To the OP....

You don't mention ( unless I missed it) where the cyst is located? You did say you would walk gingerly for a while after though....

If the cyst is on the bottom of your foot I would encourage you not to lance or excise this yourself....not a good idea to leave a scar on the bottom of your foot.

Otherwise.....squeezing etc, not so bad....

One other thing if you are REALLY thinking of cutting this thing out.....you want to be REALLY sure it is a sebaceous cyst and not something else.

You can't diagnose a sebaceous cyst by blood work, only definitive way is to have a pathology diagnosis after excision.

Good luck
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Old 04-15-2010, 03:46 PM
 
Location: Arizona
1,035 posts, read 2,445,197 times
Reputation: 1285
The Minute Clinic is better to treat colds, and flu, and ear infections. I wouldn't see them for this as most of the time they are pressed for time and their practitioners are nurse practitioners vs. physicians. I would probably leave it alone. It sounds like the tar would have worked with a little more time. If it is truly bugging you, I'd have a doctor remove it. Certain areas of the body can bleed like crazy and if you're home, it may scare you to death. Also, the physician would be able to prescribe either topical or oral antibiotics to take to prevent it from getting infected. I'd see a dermatologist. Check for one in your area and ask what their cash discount is. Most give a very generous cash discount. Just look at it this way, you can spend hundreds on trips to find different ointments and concoctions, etc, or spend it having it treated by a professional. Most docs will not charge a cash-paying patient for follow up visits, like stitch removals.
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Old 04-15-2010, 03:58 PM
 
8,424 posts, read 24,256,368 times
Reputation: 5911
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marylandkitten View Post
Welcome to my world of self-proclaimed online diagnosis (a.k.a. no health insurance!)

I am relieved to anonymously advertise that I have a sebaceous cyst!
After bleeding the internet dry for every source of information possible, I am left at a crossroads. Do it myself? Or go see a doctor.

B

- Here come's the poll! Read the website if you have time It's very hepful!
Do not dig or cut. You could get a really nasty scar or infection. Get a pair of scrubby gloves and neutrogena deep clean face wash. Wash that area twice a day with that. If your skin starts to get dry back off to 1x a day. Topically apply cortaid to take swelling down. Use honey + hot cloth soaked in sea salt as compresses nightly. Its anti-bacterial, hydrating and the honey pulls extra water and swelling out. Top again with cortaid. When the cyst gets to the surface you will see it. It may be too big to remove at home. But if you can see it try using one of those metal black head removers to push it out. Before pushing pull the skin tight at an angle to help open the pore. Still treat it like an open wound with keeping it clean. You could also try clay masks to help draw it up. But just don't cut. If you have oily skin you could even add apple cider vinegar to the honey+sea salt hot compresses.

It may take a couple days of compresses to get it out.

Last edited by pitt_transplant; 04-15-2010 at 04:27 PM..
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Old 04-15-2010, 04:06 PM
 
Location: I'm not lost, I'm exploring!
3,403 posts, read 9,277,512 times
Reputation: 5614
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluedevilz View Post
An Urgent Care center might work though....
To the OP....You don't mention ( unless I missed it) where the cyst is located? You did say you would walk gingerly for a while after though....

Otherwise.....squeezing etc, not so bad.... One other thing if you are REALLY thinking of cutting this thing out.....you want to be REALLY sure it is a sebaceous cyst and not something else.
It's not the foot! It's near where the nether-region hairline where I shave meets the rest of my belly. So, low, but not that low, but still embarrassingly low. My skin never reacts well when I shave, I'm sure I will be prone to this for the rest of my life. yay!

I don't have a problem putting myself back onto the tar-regiment. One website (and only one) that advocated warm compresses actually explained that in this instance, it's not just to increase the circulation and bring it to the surface- but it will melt the waxy-like substance so that it CAN be drained - rather than reacting like a block of cheese analogy above.

My mother says that if it goes away, or almost away, and reoccurs only every once in awhile - and if I don't have the money to get it treated on a cash-basis right now.. why not to let it go!

I think I am more inclined to buy a tube of ambesol (or another numbing substitute) and go back to messing with it tonight when I get home.
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Old 04-15-2010, 04:14 PM
 
Location: Bucks, UK
523 posts, read 2,000,005 times
Reputation: 1049
even putting aside the issues of self-diagnosis, improper aseptic surgical technique, lack of histological follow up, and a dozen other problems which all carry their own risks, trying to drain a sebaceous cyst yourself is inadvisable simply because unless the sac of tissue which lines the inside of the cyst is surgically removed, it will almost certainly recur.

if it doesn't bother you, leave it well alone. if it does, then get it dealt with properly, by a professional, otherwise you will be putting yourself at risk of complications for a problem which will almost certain come back.
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Old 04-15-2010, 04:48 PM
 
Location: I'm not lost, I'm exploring!
3,403 posts, read 9,277,512 times
Reputation: 5614
Thankyou kronen, that is very sound advice.

And thankyou all so far for your thoughts and comments!

I am about 75% sure that this is going to be something I continue to attempt to rectify and treat at home (because it has been diagnosed, just not removed) - either that, or I will eventually give up and let it be, and it may or may not dissolve, and it may or may not (but most likely will) reoccur every once in an odd while, and I will resurface all my struggling that I am instigating right now in how to combat it.

Two things I wanted to run by you that I've read about - but unsure on are these:

1. Suction - several different sites as a "home remedy" suggest I boil (or close to boil) a small glass jar, and apply it over the area (once the area has been appropriately warmed with a hot compress and cleaned, etc) and as the small jar cools, it creates a suction that, while may possibly be a little painful, really helps by "sucking" it to the surface of the skin - or out of the skin. This sounds fascinating!

2. Almost the same theory as above, but I think my little skittle-lump is too big for this, is to apply a "blackhead gun" to it, and attempt to push or draw the substance out as well? I'm still a little foggy on the details, I'm googling it on another tab as I post this. I've never heard of it before, as I have never had blackheads.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Edited to include :

Ok, looking at the blackhead gun seems to be a craptastic idea.
Reading How To Treat Sebaceous Cysts | How To Do Things.com has made me feel a lot better!

I found a walkthrough for physicians on how to do the procedure, if I went in: Minimal Excision Technique for Epidermoid (Sebaceous) Cysts - April 1, 2002 - American Family Physician (very cool read-through)

But - I think, I'm not going to keep doing the tar-thing. The first link in the how-to.com site, says: A non-surgical cure that has been gaining popularity is the heat pad. These are warm compresses that must be directly applied on the affected part for 15 minutes for 10 days. This application helps force the sebum to its melting point. The melted sebum then gets absorbed back into the body. This method is preferred by more patients because of its low cost and its being hassle free. - I don't have to keep pricking, stabbing, or threatening to slice myself open - and the heat forces the stuff inside to melt - and the skin won't absorb it back in and "go back to normal" until it can break it down.. so holy moly, I don't need a doctor to tell me to go home, put on a long movie, and swap hot compresses out for the night - I can do that myself. Not extracting it myself is most definately the safer, cleaner, less expensive and painfree option here. I just hope it works.

Thanks for letting me think this out online. It's been bothering me for some time.

Last edited by Marylandkitten; 04-15-2010 at 05:13 PM..
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:16 PM
 
4,121 posts, read 7,740,116 times
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I've suffered from sebaceous cysts in several parts of my body. Several became infected and extremely painful, constant soaking didn't help so I ended up at the doctor's office and had them lanced.

The ones that aren't painful, I leave alone. Eventually they will open and drain on their own. I found this especially true when we go to HI every year and spend a lot of time in the ocean and/or pool. If it isn't painful, you should let it be. You don't want to end up with a serious infection which might spread and land you in the hospital.
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