Pimple-ish looking thing on the outside of my shin. What is this? (Pic inside)
February 13, 2011 9:16 AM   Subscribe

Pimple-ish looking thing on the outside of my shin. What is this?

I discovered this pimple-ish bump on my leg last night. It hurts a good bit if anything rubs against it - much more than a normal pimple. It also has more redness around the edges than a normal pimple. Should I be concerned here?

Pictures here and here.
posted by Evernix to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
 
Looks like a staph infection.

Go to a doctor and have it cleaned up.
posted by dfriedman at 9:18 AM on February 13, 2011


Redness around the edges, by the way, indicates an infection, and if that redness starts to spread along the veins of your legs you need to go the ER immediately.
posted by dfriedman at 9:18 AM on February 13, 2011


Looks like a big pimple. Pop it.
posted by Mark Doner at 9:31 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, do not touch it! If it is nothing serious, it will resolve on its own. If, however, it is a staph infection, messing with it is very dangerous! Keep an eye on it.
posted by DeltaForce at 9:33 AM on February 13, 2011


That looks like a boil: a bacterial infection of the skin, probably caused by staph and somewhat akin to a giant pimple. Treat it with hot compresses and keep a close eye on it; if it starts to get hot or the redness moves up your leg along the veins, like dfriedman said above, go to the doctor right away (either the emergency room or preferably an after-hours clinic, which would be cheaper but still able to treat this).
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:39 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eeeee, don't pop it! Leave it alone and definitely keep an eye on it. Good luck!
posted by sucre at 9:39 AM on February 13, 2011


You should not pop that thing, by the way. But if you do, wash the area first with soap and hot water, and wash your hands with soap and hot water, too. But don't pop it, is what a medical professional would say.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:45 AM on February 13, 2011


To be clear about the point about your veins: if the redness traces your veins that means your bloodstream has become infected which is a medical emergency...
posted by dfriedman at 9:45 AM on February 13, 2011


Ingrown hair (boil). Hot compressses, pop it the right way, sterile needle straight in the middle, squeeze from bottom. A dab of Neosporin and a band-aid. It will resolve on its own. IANAD
posted by ~Sushma~ at 10:02 AM on February 13, 2011


Ack. Okay then. Thanks all - I really appreciate your input. I'm gonna go haul ass to the nearest urgent care center near where I am. Probably need to start washing my track pants more often.

(askmefi rocks)
posted by Evernix at 10:03 AM on February 13, 2011


All whitehead pimples are essentially infections. That just looks like a larger one, but not terribly large at that. It could be a very minor staph infection, but for a staph infection it's tiny.

Hot compresses and the like are fine, conventional wisdom says not to pop it, since you could spread the infection. However, it's already an infection and the skin around it is responding to it. The pus inside is mostly dead white cells and fluid, contaminated with bacteria. It could be related to an ingrown hair.

Draining it will relieve the pressure building up inside - it may burst on its own rubbing up against a pant leg or other minor pressure. I don't think you want that to happen. It may subside on it's own.

I suggest it would be better to cleanse and disinfect the area around it, lance it with a clean, alcohol swabbed needle, and clean any drainage away with an alcohol moistened paper towel. It's pretty small.

Don't swab it with alcohol unless you plan to lance it. Alcohol dries out the skin and will stimulate oil production, which can aggravate pimples and their cousin, the blackhead. Soap can aggravate pimples and blackheads as well.

You might get a raised eyebrow at the urgent care center, but they'll happily bill you or your insurance for the visit. They'll probably lance it there or tell you to go away and let it subside. You should not take antibiotics for this alone, it's truly trivial, but some docs may prescribe antibiotics.
posted by Xoebe at 10:48 AM on February 13, 2011


Just as an update to anyone who might read this - the doc at the care center said it was indeed staph. He gave me a shot, cream for twice-a-day use, and antibiotics. Should be gone in a few days.
posted by Evernix at 1:17 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


infinitywaltz: "That looks like a boil: a bacterial infection of the skin, probably caused by staph and somewhat akin to a giant pimple. Treat it with hot compresses and keep a close eye on it; if it starts to get hot or the redness moves up your leg along the veins, like dfriedman said above, go to the doctor right away (either the emergency room or preferably an after-hours clinic, which would be cheaper but still able to treat this)."

This. I know you're taken care of this time, but if it happens again or if it happens to someone else looking for this question, you can see if it will go away fast without needing antibiotics. You do this by putting wet washcloths absolutely as hot as you can stand over it, and letting it sit. It is possible this will cause the boil to subside or, more likely, rupture. If it ruptures: wipe away the pus on some tissue or something disposable. Then PULL on the sides of the skin surrounding the boil. It should look something like this
---- | O | ----

With your fingers pulling away from the boil. This will force more of the pus out. You can keep treating it with a hot compress at this point or stop. If it gets bigger, or spreads, or you have two, or it begins reaching out to your veins, definitely see an urgent care center asap. I don't think it's emergency room worthy as long as you catch it as early as you did this time.
posted by Night_owl at 7:38 PM on February 13, 2011


Also for future readers, if you do decide to wait, draw a circle around the infected area (the red part). Then it's very easy to see if the redness is spreading.
posted by emkelley at 5:28 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Glad you're okay, bud!
posted by ~Sushma~ at 6:23 PM on February 14, 2011


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