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Sterling Minerals Beauty News

Back Acne Or Is It Something Else

Acne, comedone, open or closed or a cyst.

Odd Changes To Your Skin

Have you begun to see odd changes to your skin especially on your back that were never there before? Such as, tiny bumps with dry skin, which might be confused with a white head or back acne? But it isn’t!

What about a hard bump with a dark center? You might think it is perhaps the beginning of a black head or plugged up open Comedone, or worse it is skin cancer like I did since I have had melanoma before. But it wasn’t any of those things!

My discovery on anything weird looking on my back or chest requires constant monitoring so I can catch it early. In this case, it turned out to be a subaceous cyst beginning to form and are commonly confused with acne or an open comedone with the latter turning into a subaceous cyst. This little inconvenience is another “blech” moment for me. Yet I needed to know the specifics of this freshly discovered skin malady.

My Husband Went Into Freak Out Mode

Of course, when my hubby discovers something, I can’t see ordinarily it is the same song and dance. “Better get into to see the doctor, you don’t want to play around with this stuff.”

I obediently go see my doctor, anticipating we have another skin cancer on its way, only to learn I have a different anomaly.

Even though this thing is a new pain in my neck, I was relieved to know it was not more skin cancer. Basically, my doctor told me they are common, and it will either go away on its own or it won’t. But warned me to leave it alone and do not pick at it to prevent creating an infection… uhm, too late.

Defining the Differences Between Acne, Open and Closed Comedones

Acne forms from a blocked pore with sebum production increasing to the point of swelling and looking inflamed which in turn can become cystic. These are typically painful to touch, and you know it is cystic when it resembles more of a lump that is red with a blistered whitehead on top. Bacteria flourishes as it feeds on the trapped sebum making this type of acne not fun to experience.

Open and closed Comedones are typically thought of as a type of acne since it also involves a blocked pore or a damaged hair follicle opening. This is why they are confused for blackheads because they tend to originate near a subaceous gland. However, comedones are typically blocked from a buildup of keratin combined with sebum making a hard head of white when it is closed and a black head with an open comedone.

The best way to treat these is with good cleansing practices, some exfoliation and maybe medication depending on how bad the condition is. Steaming the skin with warm compresses can also help open up the pores and soften the hard plug of keratin and sebum so that you can gently remove it. Never pick at or pop them though, since this can drive infection deeper into the skin.

What the Heck is a Subaceaous Cyst Then?

Sebaceous cysts are sometimes confused for Epidermoid cysts which are essentially slow-growing, non-cancerous, and painless masses that occur right under the surface of the skin. They are smooth solid lumps that might have a black dot on top similar to a blackhead like mine had. These types of cysts can happen to anyone at any time. The good news is that neither type of cyst is very serious or painful, and many times, they will drain and disappear all on their own. At least that’s what my doc says.

One can only hope! The black head is gone from the two on my back, but I am left with the hard lump under my skin.

The doctor says he can excise it if it drives me nuts and it only does that because it is right next to my spine, so I feel it on occasion through my clothes. But he also said it can resolve on its own, yet this “wait and see” can take a very long time, 6 months or more. Mine are coming up on 10 months since discovery.

I Got Quite the Education On Types of Cysts

Sebaceous cysts are more common than you might realize but there is another type you may be dealing with like me. Epidermoid cysts are a thing apparently. The names are often used interchangeably even though they aren’t exactly the same thing.

Sebaceous cysts arise from glands in the skin that produce an oily substance called sebum. When one of these glands gets blocked, the sebum begins to build up and form a pocket beneath the skin. This is similar to typical acne behavior. They usually sprout up on the face, neck, scalp, or torso.

Epidermoid cysts, on the other hand, arise from surface skin cells that begin to collect beneath the skin rather than sloughing off like they should. These cysts are filled with a thick, cheese-like material made of keratin. They usually happen when a hair follicle is inflamed or when there is an injury to the skin such as picking at it (of course I did), which allows those skin cells to accumulate into a cyst.

Epidermoid cysts are far more common than sebaceous cysts, even though many people lump them under the generic header of “sebaceous cysts.” You may only have a single one on your back or you could have quite a few popping up. I typically start to feel these hard-little keratin spots during the winter when the air is dryer and I wear heavier clothing.  Which I am sure this cuts down on air flow and reduces exfoliation.

For the most part, I can usually dislodge them with a good scrubbing in the shower and prevent the situation from getting worse. But apparently as things change with age, not all things work as simply as they once did. I love getting old! 

Lucky Me I Have My Answer with Some Advice

So now that it has been figured out that mine is the Epidermoid kind of cyst… phew… after I discovered it on my back, let the picking begin. I went after that thing in an unhealthy way to try and pop it or get it to drain. Unfortunately, this type of cyst is not prone to draining in the way a zit or sebaceous cyst might cooperate. Yes, to reiterate, I only learned this after the fact once I went to the doctor as he remarked on how sore it looked… yep uh huh… oops!

At the very least, the blackheads eventually disappeared from the surface and they stopped growing, so I believe once they closed they had reached maximum capacity. They are smooth and don’t hurt, but it does bother me that they are still there because they feel funny.

Things I do to encourage them to drain. I massage the cysts periodically hoping this will relieve the fullness and shrink them. I am also more attentive to washing and exfoliating my back in the shower. This is something that I wasn’t doing as much anymore as I continue to lose that flexibility of reaching around behind my back.

I literally feel tiny little hard keratin spots on my back located near my spine, and I attribute this to not attending to exfoliating the area. And now that I realize that these tiny hard keratin bumps can result into a deeper issue, I’ll be way more vigilant when it comes to back care. Obviously, this will become a priority even if it means recruiting the hubster to wash my back for me.

Researching Some Product Options to Assist with Skin Maladies

Now that I am dealing with what might be a preventable skin issue in the future, I have been doing my research on products that are perfect for just these types of skin conditions, or for simply helping with exfoliation and cleansing of the skin. Even sensitive skin types will benefit from exfoliating care, especially on the neck and face.

I have found an interesting product that I am loving, and if it performs for me the way I need it to after my trial period, I plan to add it to my Sterling Minerals website for everyone to purchase. I am considering it for providing exfoliation of the face and body.

In the meantime, any odd spot or bump you notice, I encourage you to have it checked out just in case. These types of cysts are quite common and only wanted to share with you if similarly, you have a painless suspicious firm lump under your skin, the odds are in your favor it is something benign.  Hey, it may only be a lipoma, a very weird benign fatty tumor, but that’s another story for another day.

Have a great rest of the week and visit with you soon!

Posted by Katie at April 3, 2019 8:40 am | No Comments »