If You Have a Sebaceous Cyst, Have it Removed NOW

September 19, 2012 at 5:37 PM 43 comments

I am going through an unbelievable experience with a sebaceous cyst.   I had no idea such a harmless-looking thing could blow up into a major medical problem.

(Image via TurboSquid.com)

I’ve had the darn thing, on the inside of my left knee, for probably 15 years.  It very slowly grew from the size of a lentil to the size of a marble but it otherwise didn’t bother me and it wasn’t in a very visible area so I just blew it off.

I had skin cancer about ten years ago so I go to the dermatologist once a year and though my doctor would always note the cyst, she didn’t push me to have it removed.

Then, on May 24, the Thursday before the Memorial Day weekend, I noticed some redness around the base of the cyst.  Friday it was worse so I called my dermatologist for an appointment which I made for the following Tuesday at 8:00 a.m.

On Sunday the redness extended out several inches and down my leg about six inches in a wide oval.  I called my doctor’s office because as that point, I was scared and didn’t think I could make it to Tuesday morning.

The doctor who was on call told me to go to the office and she would meet me there (so sweet), which I did.  Despite dropping everything while working in her garden, and reeking of manure, she took one look at the site and said oh, yeah.  Good thing you came in. You wouldn’t have made it to Tuesday.  Then she shot me up with some steroids, gave me a prescription for antibiotics and told me to come back for that already-scheduled Tuesday morning appointment.

So I went back and my regular doctor lanced the cyst, told me to push on it several times a day to drain it, and said I could come back in a week.

When I asked what made the thing suddenly erupt, she said the cyst probably burst internally and then my body attacked the contents thinking it was foreign matter.

So to make a long story short, ever since the end of May I have been seeing the doctor roughly every ten days and nursing the thing while waiting for the infection to go away completely and for the whole area to calm down.

Fast forward to August 30.  I went in for minor surgery to have the cyst removed.  All seemed to go well though my doctor was concerned about getting it all because it seemed to have multiple “sacks” instead of a nice neat one.  But, she sewed me up and I made an appointment for last Tuesday, September 11, to have the stitches removed.

Everything looked good to my (untrained) eye but after the stitches were out, a little hole, about the diameter of a medium-sized nail (the size you’d use to hang picture on the wall) remained.  My doctor said it looked like the thing still wanted to be a cyst.  She said might not have gotten all of it out.  She said even if one cyst cell remains, it’ll turn into a cyst again.


So she put this fake skin-like bandage over it and a pressure bandage on top of that and told me to come back in seven days.

I was supposed to change the fake skin in the middle of those seven days so on Friday morning I unpacked the area and just about fell out of my chair.  The hole was the size of a pencil eraser and it was bleeding a watery blood.

I didn’t want to go into the weekend with it like that so I made an emergency appointment and went in that afternoon.  My regular doc wasn’t there so I saw someone else who recommended we leave the hole alone and essentially let it close from the bottom of the hole up.

Fine.  She covered it with more of that fake-skin bandage and told me to come back in five days, i.e. today, to see my regular doc.

At today’s appointment my doc noticed that the rim of the hole was turning inside, meaning it was healing around the edges instead of reaching across the hole, so to speak, and closing up.  She looked around, pulling the hole every which way (it’s getting pretty gross by now as you can imagine) and said she saw the edge of some sack material (it has the texture of skin but it is pure white) so she numbed the area and slid a scalpel under the skin around the edges of the hole and pulled more sack tissue out.  She also cut around the rim of the hole to create a raw edge hoping, again, that the hole would close up instead of turning under.  Then she filled the hole with some antibiotic cream, covered it over and told me to come back on Monday.

(They gave me six days worth of antibiotic tablets somewhere along the line in case it gets infected.)

Today my doctor said I might have to GO TO THE HOSPITAL and have an operation where they open the whole area — approximately two inches in diameter around the site — to get every last bit of cyst tissue.

This is crazy!  I had no idea a little ol’ cyst could cause this much trouble!

Bottom line: If you have a cyst, have it removed immediately.  You don’t want this to happen to you. It isn’t worth it.

Geez.  If I’d only known.


Entry filed under: Health - Physical and Psychological. Tags: .

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43 Comments Add your own

  • 1. thingsmybellylikes  |  September 19, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    Oh yuck, that sounds heinous :( Hope it clears up without
    the need for a hospital stay.
    Your tale of woe has got me checking every lump on my body, I think we’re all probably guilty of taking our skin health for granted. Get well soon!

  • 2. Say It Ain't So Already  |  September 19, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    Why thanks. Yeah, be aware of your skin and what’s going on underneath. (This applies to pets too. Check them for lumps.)

  • 3. Paul Day  |  September 21, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Jesus! That’s just…wow…

  • 4. Sue  |  May 2, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    I just found this since i have a Sebaceous cyst. It appeared after a dog had bite had healed. I am having it removed in a about 10 days since it has become painful and the color has changed. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • 5. Say It Ain't So Already  |  May 2, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    Good you’re having it removed!

  • 6. Stephanie B  |  June 3, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    I know the feeling. I have a sebaceous cyst in the back of my right knee and had it since birth. The last 4 years ive had it get inflammed and self abrupt 3 times and ir has moved across my joint line. Im finally having it removed on 12th june so fingers crossed they get it all bevause when it gets infected, i struggle to walk and am in agony for 2-3 weeks when it abrupts

  • 7. Say It Ain't So Already  |  June 3, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    Oh, geez. And I thought I had it bad. Good luck on the 12th! I hope everything goes well and that you’re going to (finally) be free of that thing once and for all. Amazing how something so relatively small can cause so much pain and trouble.

  • 8. Jag  |  June 12, 2013 at 12:46 AM

    too late for me man.. had i read this earlier i wouldnt be fudged up right now..
    i have it in my chest n from pea sized it suddenly blew up..now i have a hole 2cm in diameter, just 2nd day of getting it bandaged n its damn painful..
    get it removed asap..only if that idiot doc had told me in first place…

  • 9. Say It Ain't So Already  |  June 12, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    Hey, I hear you. As I said, I had mine for years and the doc never told me what could happen. I’d have had it removed long ago had I known. Geezus.

  • 10. 3snugglebugs  |  June 25, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    I just saw my dr today for one that’s gotten infected. I was really surprised she told me to hot compress it & pop it at home! I’m kinda nervous about that. But because she also said I have strep, I’m on antibiotics now; hopefully that helps.

  • 11. Say It Ain't So Already  |  June 25, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    Good luck!

  • 12. Steve Hilfiker  |  August 18, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    I have had a cyst on my back for about three years. It was about the size of a dime, perhaps a bit smaller, and the shape of a large contact lens on my back. It ruptured internally yesterday, and is now about the size of a quarter and the area is all red and is quite sore. After reading this information, it sounds like I need to have it removed. I am traveling in four days to a close friends funeral and wont be back for 8 days. How soon does this need to be removed?

  • 13. Say It Ain't So Already  |  August 19, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    Mine ruptured on a Thursday and by Sunday the redness was about 6″ in diameter. When I got to the dermatologist’s office that afternoon, she was quite alarmed and said I couldn’t have waited another day. So, if my experience is typical, you should probably have it done asap.

  • 14. ML1999  |  August 19, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    Why didn’t the damn doctor sew the damn hole up? When I had my cyst removed, he sewed it up.

  • 15. colleen  |  October 11, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    oh my goodness….I know this is an older post but I’m very concerned reading this. I have 7 of these pesky cysts. 5 on my legs, 1 on my arm, and one on my stomach. My doctor keeps saying they are absolutely harmless but I’m starting to believe (especially after finding this) that they need to go. I had a 4.2 cm tumor in my breast which by the grace of god was benign but since then these cysts have started popping up all over my body.

  • 16. Say It Ain't So Already  |  October 11, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    I haven’t read that post in a while but I’m pretty sure I included in it that my doctor said they were harmless too. Thing is…yes, they’re harmless but either I should have asked whether they can do anything other than sit there or the doctor should have told me about the possibility of the rupture which she didn’t do. It isn’t worth it to gamble and wait to see if they rupture (or not). If they do rupture, removing them is so much more difficult, time consuming and expensive, and in my opinion, I would never take that chance again. It isn’t worth it.

  • 17. Brad  |  October 17, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    Hey what’s up man? I had A cyst on my left hip for a couple of years now, first it was like the size of a pimpel, now it’s the size of a lime or grapefruit. The only thing is no pus fluid is in there, rather it’s dark fluid in the sac, which I know it’s blood. So they’ve open it up a little and letting me drain it myself and I’m having surgery tommorow to get it all removed(or if they can’t remove it all, take part of it and do a biospy).

    The question I want to ask is how was the surgery to remove it? Is it scary? And did it hurt?

  • 18. Say It Ain't So Already  |  October 17, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    It hurt like hell but mine wasn’t near as big as yours so I would imagine they’ll make sure you aren’t in any pain. With me, since the “sack” had burst, they basically had to go in and dig it (the walls of the sack) and the contents out.

  • 19. Brad  |  October 17, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Yeah, they said they’re going to do local anastisa(sp?) on it, which the numbing shot doesn’t hurt that bad at all. I’m just concerend that how they’re going to remove the sac(since it’s on my hip area) and would I feel the needle and the moving of it.

  • 20. Say It Ain't So Already  |  October 17, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    My main thought when I was going through this was to get it freakin’ over with so I could start the healing process and be done with it once and for all.

  • 21. Brad  |  October 17, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    Yeah, that’s the way I felt when I first went to the clinic to get it removed until they said no pus was coming out at all and I would had to get it removed. That kind of freaked me out a little, plus the fact that I have a open incesion already for them to drain it made me scared.

    But I have to suck it up because I DO want this to be removed. Plus the doctor who is doing the surgery is this fine women with a nice body, so it can’t be too bad right?

  • 22. Say It Ain't So Already  |  October 17, 2013 at 7:14 PM

    Whatever. Let us know how it goes. We wish you the best.

  • 23. Brad  |  October 17, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    Thank you Ma’am, I will let you know after it’s done. One More question, did you feel any tugging while getting it removed?

  • 24. Say It Ain't So Already  |  October 17, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    Yes. Lots.

  • 25. Brad  |  October 21, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    Hey, sorry for the late reply.

    So I went on Friday and they just took 2 samples of it and they’re doing an biopsy to see what it is. They actually wanted to take the whole thing out but they think there is nerves around it. Now I have to wait to November 1st and Hopefully they can take the whole thing out that day.

    Also, the shots really didn’t hurt that much.

  • 26. Say It Ain't So Already  |  October 22, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    Did you get the results of the biopsy yet?

  • 27. Brad  |  October 31, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    Hey Ma’m, sorry it took so long for the reply. I’m going tomorrow to get the results, and hopefully they’ll remove it that day. I Forgot to mention that one of the doctors said that it could be an possibility for to just keep it as is not harmful. But hopefully I just get it removed, I’m not scared of getting the shot anymore.

    Also to let some of you readers who have the same problem and have a exposed wound during the waiting process like me, DO NOT buy any gauge pads. As I found out weather you change your pads one time a day or two times a day, the gauge pads will stick to your wound and not only will it be painful when you remove it, you would bleed like crazy and have to use up most of your gauge pads to stop the bleeding. I recommend Non-Stick pads. They really don’t stick and it doesn’t hurt to take it off. A real life saver for me.

    Well, let you know tomorrow about what happens and hopefully it’s good news.

  • 28. K  |  January 11, 2015 at 5:51 PM

    OMG I have one on my earlobe and I’m worried that my whole love might be removed.

  • 29. CM  |  January 30, 2015 at 6:09 PM

    If it has “multiple sacs,” it may actually be hidradenitis supprativa (sp).

    When they start to get infected or are draining, tea tree oil is a good natural antibiotic. Things like bentonite clay also help draw out all the infection

  • 30. Stacey  |  April 27, 2015 at 4:39 PM

    I also had a cyst in my leg for about 10 years that the doctor told me was harmless and no need to get it removed. It would be considered “cosmetic” surgery. 6 months ago I woke up with the area swollen and sore. I went to the GP the following day in fear of an infection from the cyst possibly having ruptured. The nurse practioner told me that if it had ruptured, wouldn’t the area have gotten smaller, not bigger? Luckily, I went with my gut and had the cyst removed the following week. The surgeon said it was a good thing I had because there were actually 2 ruptured cysts and the entire area was infected. Go with your instincts. You know your body better than anyone else.

  • 31. Say It Ain't So Already  |  May 3, 2015 at 6:21 PM

    Bravo! You did the right thing.

  • 32. jenrenzi29  |  November 19, 2015 at 1:56 AM

    Ugh, I recently had a cyst removed from my back for the third time! I’d asked to have it removed years ago and they told me that wasn’t necessary. Then it got infected and I needed emergency surgery, which needed to be repeated more drastically when the thing grew back. Then it grew back again and it was removed, leaving a large incision with stitches. When they tried to remove the stitches, the wound popped open.

    The skin was too damaged to restitch, so it has to be carefully packed daily for the next two or three weeks. It’s all scarily close to my spinal column, which makes infection especially risky and also complicates healing, because the area is subject to lots of strain and motion. .I’m supposed to stop going to the gym for a few weeks to keep the healing tissue from disruption. I’m also eating a lot more protein than usual and making sure to get adequate vitamins.

    I wish I’d avoided the gym while the stitches were in. It just didn’t occur to me that those waist and abdominal exercises might significantly impede the healing of my back. Certain kinds of moderate exercise, on the other hand, are supposed to be helpful. I’m trying to make sure to get some walking in. I hope it heals in weeks and not in months, as some here have described.

  • 33. Lisa  |  February 12, 2016 at 12:00 AM

    I really feel for you,i reciently had surgery 12 days ago,and just got my stiches out today,now i have a severe infection under my left breast,and everything was healing just fine after surgery,i go um to the surgen for my first appointment and he presses on it so hard i just screamed.After that,there were problems,now im sitting here still having to pack it with gauze,and the incision on my right side is fine,but i have a pin hole.And i recieved the same advice today,there is no guarentee that cists wont come back again,thats all i wanted to hear.

  • 34. Kelley  |  February 24, 2016 at 8:09 PM

    This is scary. For years I just had a large recurrent black-head in the center of my back between my shoulders (over the spine) that I’d occasionally remove by squeezing but which always refilled. Then a couple of years ago I noticed it had morphed into a fair sized hard cyst. My dermatologist says she can remove it or not, my call. Several months ago it did seem to get infected but then it calmed back down again and when I saw the dermatologist yesterday she said it definitely wasn’t infected. I asked how large an incision would be necessary, and using her fingers to demonstrate, it looked to be about an inch. That’s a lot larger than what I’d expected, and since I tend to bleed and heal slowly, not to mention have issues taking antibiotics, I dread getting it removed. Reading the comments, though, it sounds like I should tough it out and just do it. Damn.

  • 35. Jen  |  March 5, 2016 at 7:26 PM

    I have had one for about 13 years. Of course it got bigger over the years. Was on the list to do but considered cosmetic so insurance would not touch it. Got infected and grew about 5″ in diameter..Painful! Went to GP and he gave me anti-biotics, and referred me to a surgeon. Three days after a lot of pain and stinging, “Henry” (the monkey on my back) decided to burst by him self. I felt that Henry was not happy with the anti-biotics. New pain.
    Saturday morning had to go to work..poor hubby, had to wake him up to bandage me so I would not ooze or stink. Swelling was way down. When I got home from work he opened the bandage and said good Lord get me a towel. Draining constantly. See surgeon in 4 days. If we could of got rid of this at the beginning don’t think that things would have progressed this far. Gotta love insurance!

  • 36. Mark  |  May 1, 2016 at 10:00 AM

    I had a cyst on the inside of my left knee for about 10-15 years. Same exact spot my father has one. They can be genetic. Started small, got to be almost the size of a golf ball thanks to my young son constantly hitting or kicking it accidentally. Then it began to turn purple and was quite painful, actually hurting a little when I walked. Doctors over the years said removal was up to me. Not dangerous but if it bothered me I could have it removed. One morning after a shower it seemed to be throbbing and when I looked, there was just a tiny spot of liquid, so I pushed and WHAMMO!!! Explosion. Shot across the room and hit the wall. This semi solid white puss came out for about 20 minutes. Unbelievable! What a relief though after having it for so long. I cleaned it with peroxide and put antibiotic cream on it and went to the doctor a week later. Doctor said I did the right thing cleaning it daily after shower. Took about 6 weeks till the puss and liquid stopped filling up. Now it has been about 3 months and I have a hole that is healed and open. I can stick a q-tip in there. Really creepy. No pain. Cyst is dry. No blood or puss. Just a dark hole. Summer is coming and I have a creepy hole in my knee!

  • 37. Say It Ain't So Already  |  May 7, 2016 at 1:43 PM

    I don’t have a hole as big as yours (more the size of a smallish nail head) but yeah, I hear ya.

  • 38. Katie  |  May 23, 2016 at 4:20 AM

    I have some kind of cyst in my earlobe, but hopefully the doctor will remove it today. It’s very painful, this is the fourth time it’s came back, and every time it comes back, it’s even more painful than the last.
    I’m glad you’re knee is okay, gosh I would have a heart attack if this happens to my ear!

  • 39. gigi  |  June 24, 2016 at 2:35 PM

    I am having a cyst removed from my panty line with a local anesthetic. My doctor is not sending me home with an antibiotic or a pain killer. For all the reviews I read saying how painful it is, shouldn’t I be receiving both? And wouldn’t it be better if I am put under so that I don’t know what is going on?

  • 40. Stacey  |  July 16, 2016 at 7:24 PM

    I also learned my lesson the hard way. After having my ruptured cysts removed from above my knee, within 1 year another one formed. I decided not to wait 10 years and immediately had it removed this past February. Not taking any chances this time.

  • 41. Say It Ain't So Already  |  July 17, 2016 at 10:34 AM

    If I get another cyst, I’m going to have it removed immediately too. It ain’t worth it to ignore it.

  • 42. christopher e riley  |  July 24, 2016 at 2:11 PM

    just had one removed. Size of golf ball deep in my back. Had to wait till it surfaced. When it did. More like an active volcano. Laid up for 2 months to heal as the hole in my back was the size of a .50mm exit wound.

  • 43. Diane Bilal  |  August 14, 2016 at 7:45 PM

    I used black blood root drawing salve on my stomach cysts in about a week it drew everything tomamhesdnand yesterday I picking at the cyst which turned black and was able to peel it completely out. Had it for over 30 years. NOw will go to the Dr. To have the specimen tested and check the wound. It works! No surgery needed.

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