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What is a cyst?

By Anonymous March 7, 2009 - 9:42am
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I have had a very uncomfortable 'zit' on my back for several months now. It comes and goes but it is directly on my spine and hurts horribly when it is infected. Does this need to be removed or should I consistently 'pop it'?


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Miscortes, the Mayo Clinic has a great page on epidermal (sebaceous) cysts, which includes information on symptoms, causes, complications and treatments.

They suggest seeking treatment when a cyst "grows rapidly, ruptures, becomes painful or occurs in a spot that's constantly irritated." It sounds like yours qualifies in a couple of those areas.

A doctor can inject steroids or antibiotics into the cyst, or can excise the cyst if needed. It's a small procedure done in the doctor's office. Since yours is right on the spine and is probably constantly irritated from your clothing and from bumping up against things, you may benefit from looking into this.

Here's that page:


Hope you can get this resolved soon. It sounds like it's a nuisance besides being painful.

March 11, 2009 - 8:22am
HERWriter Guide

In general, a cyst is a small growth that's usually benign, and can be anywhere on the body. Most cysts contain air or infected fluids or substances called sebum. Sebum is a kind of oil that comes from our glands.

I wouldn't suggest you pop this bump anymore.

The first thing that popped (speaking of popping!) into my head is that it's an ingrown hair. I'm not saying you have a gorilla back (!) but even a fine hair can become ingrown and the hair gets thicker and thicker the more it becomes stuck and the more painful it becomes.

I have very fine hair on my legs, I don't need to shave my legs over the knee and never have. However, a really fine, blonde hair became ingrown a couple of inches above my knee and remained there for months, no matter how many times I "popped" it. It was quite painful. Eventually my husband told me to really examine the bump and sure enough we found an ingrown hair that had really thickened due to the months it had been there. I got it out with a tweezers and it has now healed, although the healing took about two months.

Since it's on your back, have someone really take a good look for you. Chances are it's an ingrown hair that was really fine and is now trapped and causing these mini infections all the time. Once the hair is out (make sure the area is exfoliated first), you'll heal up in a couple of months but give it that amount of time - they are difficult little suckers to heal once popped. And don't use any kind of moisturizers that contain animal by-products. These can cause even more clogging of the pores. Loofah your back regularly in the shower to keep up exfoliation. Change the loofah at least once a month to stave off bacteria.

If you find that's it's not an ingrown hair, check it out with your doctor, to be sure.

Good luck - let us know how it goes!

March 7, 2009 - 11:47am
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