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What do I have growing out of my legs?
November 13, 2006 10:42 AM   Subscribe

What are these giant pimple things?

For a few years now I've been getting (sometimes huge, about half an inch in diameter and raised at least a quarter of an inch) reddish bumps on my bikini line and inner thighs. They show up about once a month, more often in hot weather (I don't know if that's because I shave more often or because of the heat), surprising amounts of pus, blood, and clear liquid come out when they are squeezed, and (I apologize for how repulsive this sounds) the stuff that comes out tends to shoot a long way for some reason. I've learned to use a tissue, but before I've found the results on the wall five feet away. These things are completely unlike any pimple I've ever had on my face or any other part of my body. I don't think they are ingrown hairs because they often show up a few inches down from my bikini like, where I hardly have any hair at all. It's sometimes difficult and extremely painful to squeeze them, but because I am a picker, I do it anyway. If I've tried to squeeze one too early, it sometimes becomes dark and bruised-looking and the blood that comes out when I eventually do squeeze it successfully seems darker, as well.
Now that I have completely repulsed everyone, I want to know, does anyone else get these? Are they a symptom of some terrible disease?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I get these very occasionally. My doc said they are sebaceous cysts. Often they go away on their own, but here are a few more things to know:

- warm wet compresses can help them go away
- squeezing or messing with them, while tempting, generally prolongs the problem
- if they turn into abscesses then they are a pain to deal with and may require antibiotics.
- if I have one that's painful I'll often cover it up with a bandaid just so my pants rubbing against it doesn't make it worse.
- a doc can lance them if they are really terrible
posted by jessamyn at 10:55 AM on November 13, 2006

Sounds like a boil.
posted by jamaro at 10:56 AM on November 13, 2006

I get these all the time. Boils. They suck and they're painful.

I try to avoid squeezing, though it's hard. A warm wet compress often helps to get the gunk to come out.

Try to keep the area clean when you have a boil, and clean up the goo when it comes out. You don't want it spreading the staph.

They generally happen in moist places (groin, armpits) so it helps to keep those areas as dry as possible.

If you MUST squeeze, wait until there's a head, otherwise you're probably just pushing things farther under the skin.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:16 AM on November 13, 2006

Careful, it may also be molluscum contagiosum, which is mostly harmless but easily transmissable.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:33 AM on November 13, 2006

I had something like that (thought I think mine were smaller) right after changing birth control pills. It was sort of like a rash, and the BC (Zovia, I think) was the only thing I could think of that had changed recently. My doctor changed me to another brand and they went away.
posted by srah at 11:54 AM on November 13, 2006

I get these, mostly where I have rubbing from clothing or other body parts. I've always thought of them as kind of pressure sores.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:14 PM on November 13, 2006

They sound like boils to me. If so, misanthropicsarah's advice is good. Like she said, use a washcloth soaked in hot water to draw out the gunk. It is really important not to squeeze a boil, because doing so can spread the infection around. Also, I'd recommend showing them to your doctor next time you get one. They can check to see whether it's a boil or something more insidious.

I used to get boils a lot as a kid, and I still get them once in a great while. The key to prevention is keeping scrupulously clean and dry, preventing your clothes from rubbing against your skin, and of course avoiding contact with the stuff inside the boils. You might try a light sprinkling of some Gold Bond powder on the problem area each morning after you've dried off from your shower (but not when you have an active boil, this is for prevention only); this should help keep the area dry, and hopefully prevent future boils.
posted by vorfeed at 1:44 PM on November 13, 2006

In my experience they're a symptom of too-tight, non-cotton, not-changed-every-day underpants. YMMV.
posted by flabdablet at 2:12 PM on November 13, 2006

My partner gets them, and they go away on their own although they are painful. It sounds like a boil, and I would recommend not popping them - you could start an infection.
posted by arcticwoman at 3:21 PM on November 13, 2006

I'm for exterminating them, myself, as they tended to take months to go away on their own, and would sometimes get pretty bad, leaving marks that would take a year or more to go away. My usual bit was aspirin a couple of hours before, then lots of hot compresses. Sterilze the area, grab a sterile lancet, insert the lancet (or sterilized needle), then grasp under the cyst and gently squeeze upwards while pulling the lancet out. This evacuates the cyst almost completely. Then, wait for it to weep a bit onto some toilet tissue. Neosporin and a bandage, and you're done.
posted by adipocere at 5:08 PM on November 13, 2006

Definitely sounds like boils. I used to get them occasionally on my bikini line, especially in summer. I found that rubbing a little tea tree oil directly on the boil a few times a day disappears 'em like magic with no squeezing required. Now as a preventative measure I make sure to treat my Area with a drop or two of tea tree oil mixed with Cetaphil moisturizer after shaving; I haven't gotten a single new boil since.
posted by purplemonkie at 6:17 PM on November 13, 2006

I get sebaceous cysts pretty often, and I found that wearing undies with a heavy seam right at the bikini line makes them worse. Switching to a combo of no undies, thongs and boy shorts, as well as waxing rather than shaving helped them to settle down a bit for me.
posted by thisjax at 8:29 PM on November 13, 2006

IANAD, but to me it sounds suggestive of hidradenitis supportiva.
posted by macinchik at 9:14 PM on November 13, 2006

In my experience they're a symptom of too-tight, non-cotton, not-changed-every-day underpants. YMMV.

Huh. I change my mostly-too-large-for-me cotton underwear daily, and I still have this issue. But then, I think it's related to wearing pants that are too small, so we may still be coming from the same place.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:20 PM on November 13, 2006

Adipcere has the nearly perfect answer, just that Neosporin is replaced today with Polysporin. In addition, as a teenager I had boils, and the hot water compress included epsom salts, I don't know why.
posted by Goofyy at 12:35 AM on November 15, 2006

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