Lumpface McGee.
April 5, 2010 4:53 PM   Subscribe

I seldom get pimples but I've got a real doozy on my hands today.

Last night I started to feel a soreness above/behind my left eyebrow, and this morning it revealed itself to be a quarter-sized, swollen, reddish bump. It is rock hard, VERY painful and warm to the touch. (If my eyebrow moves in any way, I hurt.) When I touch it, it feels like there's a hard pea underneath, and the surrounding area is tender. It is headless and I'm afraid I'd have to literally stab it for something to emerge from it. This is no ordinary pimple. I'm not even sure this IS a pimple. It seems like it could be cystic acne. I've never had anything like this.

I've been googling around but I'm getting lots of different answers as to how to remedy this. Some say apply warm, some say apply cold... some say Neosporin and other say to steer clear. I've done the warm and the cold thing. The warmth makes it seem redder and larger. The cold reduces the swelling. I've applied a little bit of hydrocortisone ointment and some witch hazel. I'm reluctant to bring peroxide into the picture because it is so close to my eyebrow, and partially bleached eyebrow hair would not look awesome.

So, how should I handle this thing? I'm not interested in merely concealing it. I'd like to help it heal. The quicker the better, as I'm worried it might spread closer to my eye.

posted by blackcatcuriouser to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Previously. I would call a dermatologist ASAP and try to get in during someone's canceled appointment. You'll have several options of dealing with the monster once you're in their office.
posted by halogen at 4:57 PM on April 5, 2010

Rock hard? It might not be a pimple. I had such a thing on my lip which required a course of amoxycillin to go away.
posted by mkb at 4:57 PM on April 5, 2010

Are you sure it's not an insect bite of some sort?
posted by something something at 4:59 PM on April 5, 2010

Go find yourself some Ichthammol Ointment (aka drawing salve).

Follow directions on whatever product you find (most drug stores should carry it).
posted by labwench at 5:09 PM on April 5, 2010

It might be a boil due to a staph infection, which requires hot compresses and very possibly antibiotics. It sounds exactly like the staph infection boil my elementary-aged son had on his arm. If it is getting into your eye socket at all, it would probably be worth going to the ER tonight.
posted by Ery at 5:11 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd leave a message for your PCP and try to get in tomorrow, if you have insurance. Something that big and painful should probably be checked out.
posted by kpht at 5:27 PM on April 5, 2010

Here I go again. Nobody here can tell what to do, because no doctor would diagnose without seeing the condition and nobody else is competent.Go to a doctor. Now! You have wasted a day and not seen anyone who can help you. If it really bothers you and you can find an Urgent Care office open, go there now. If it is screamingly bad go to the ER. Otherwise get ahold of your doctor, a dermatologist, or someone at Urgent Care first thing in the morning, and get it looked at by a professional.
posted by Old Geezer at 5:28 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Holy crap, I was just coming on here and ask the exact same question. Mine showed up this morning and is just below and to the left of the corner of my mouth.

It hurts so bad. So bad. As in, can't eat because I can't move my mouth. (This obviously means IANAD.)

Here's what I'm doing:
Alternating between cold and hot compresses, each for 15 minutes at a time.

Ibuprofen for the pain.

Salicylic acid on a cotton ball. (I do not know if this will work, seeing as it may not even be a zit.)

For the love of Jehosephat, DON'T MESS WITH IT. NO STABBING. (I tried, totally made everything worse and more swollen.)

Tomorrow, I'll go to the doctor first thing in the morning if it's not better. I once had a friend who didn't go to the doctor for a facial staph infection and it wasn't pretty.

posted by functionequalsform at 5:55 PM on April 5, 2010

*to* ask the exact same question.

Maybe the dang thing is affecting my editing skills too.
posted by functionequalsform at 5:57 PM on April 5, 2010

Best answer: It could be a staph infection. If you are extremely unlucky, it could be MRSA. (Some strains of MRSA will respond to sulfa drugs such as Bactrim. Others can require a week of intravenous vancomycin, during which time you will be confined to the hospital. The more aggressive strains can come on very quickly.) Get it checked out right away, especially if you have swollen glands, fever/chills, or if the "pimple" is extremely red and inflamed. It is not out of the question to go to your neighborhood 24-hour urgent care clinic tonight, or even the ER if you are running a fever.

If you want to wait it out a bit, what you want to do is not a warm compress, but a hot compress. Hot as you can stand. You have to get the bacteria hot enough to kill them. Not hot enough to burn you, but it can be close.
posted by kindall at 6:12 PM on April 5, 2010

I've had staph infection in my face before and it was similar to what you describe. Not saying you have staph, saying you should go to the doctor. You don't necessarily need to go to a derm, just call your GP or go to urgent care, like kindall said.
posted by ishotjr at 6:38 PM on April 5, 2010

Go to the ER. NOW.

I had this happen to me in college. It started out as a pimple just below and to the left of my right eyebrow. Then I tried to pop it. Then it got infected.

I was messing with something on the edge of the danger triangle. The zit turned into periorbital cellultis and I got to be put on strong antibiotics and some pain meds.

Oh yeah. They did a CAT scan to ensure that the infection didn't spread to my brain.

Go to the ER. NOW.
posted by squorch at 7:37 PM on April 5, 2010

QUARTER SIZED? If it were me I would go to urgent care right now.
posted by peep at 7:59 PM on April 5, 2010

You rarely get pimples, let alone giant cysts? Quarter-sized and warm? This does not sound like acne.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:17 PM on April 5, 2010

Best answer: Allow me to be graphic. I have occasionally gotten something similar, although thankfully not on the face. If you let it do its thing naturally, it will get bigger and bigger until eventually (probably within 1-2 days) it will burst. This will leave you with a huge weeping cavity. On your face.

If it was anywhere else on your body, I'd recommend a heating pad, as hot as you can stand it, 15 minutes at a time 3x a day.

Before it ruptures, you will notice the texture of the skin will change. It will have a mushy sort of feel. This is your cue to keep a CLEAN washcloth handy, as well as your wound cleaner of choice. The texture change means it will burst soon - often within a few hours. Be prepared for a terrible smell, and a surprising quantity of pus.

Clean it as well as you can, and continue to clean it several times a day. I think it's better to let it be exposed to air, but for cosmetic reasons you'd want to put a gauze bandage over it if you have to leave the house.

Now on the other hand, doctors have several magic things they can do to get it to stand down hostilities. Considering it's on your face you definitely want to go that route.

I've always just done home care, but if it it was on my face I would run crying to the doctor, oh yes I would. And I have a $2500 deductible, so you KNOW I'm serious about that!
posted by ErikaB at 9:04 PM on April 5, 2010

Forgot to add, I'm guessing it's a boil but IANAD, etc etc etc.
posted by ErikaB at 9:09 PM on April 5, 2010

Whatever it is sounds infected. Do not mess with something like this especially when it's right next to your eye, and do not stab it. In case these other replies didn't already convince you, call your doctor first thing in the morning.
posted by wondermouse at 9:30 PM on April 5, 2010

it sounds like a boil to me, and i get boils frequently. i always do home care, because seriously, it's a boil and i don't need to pay someone to do what i can do myself and what people did for themselves for hundreds of years.

however, since it's by your eye, and since boils contain staph, and since eye+staph=bad, i'd go to your doc or the urgent care clinic in the morning and have them take care of it. i would also do the same thing myself if i had insurance because staph infections suck balls and i can only imagine the suckitudeness multiplying when it's in your eye.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:18 PM on April 5, 2010

A friend of mine had something identical to this, even in the same location. Turned out that it was staph, and a quick visit to the doctor and some antibiotics cleared it up. Do see a doc, and don't pick at it!
posted by spinifex23 at 10:36 PM on April 5, 2010

The only advice you should take from this thread is to get this seen by a doctor NOW, and I would recommend the nearest hospital rather than urgent care.
posted by zoel at 4:54 AM on April 6, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I woke up in the morning and my eye was swollen shut. I went to the ER immediately and was told it's cellulitis, which is caused by staph. I'm on Bactrim (an antibiotic) and Motrin. Hopefully this will clear up soon. It's looking pretty gruesome.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 10:01 PM on April 6, 2010

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