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Hard bumps on face and neck, no pus. Is this a carbuncle?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 1998
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About six months ago, I began to develop harden bumps, the diameter of a dime, on my face and on the back of my neck, on the upper part. This started when I was working in Iraq. At first there was just one bump that came to surface, but it was never filled with pus. It was just red and hard. After a week or so, other smaller bumps of the same type started to group around the bigger one. I return to Iraq and eventually the bumps went down, but they stayed embedded beneath my skin. I'm currently in Iraq, and every now and then, smaller bumps of the same type will appear throughout portions of my face. Once again, they will never come to surface and they are not noticeable by eye, I can only feel them. I ordered Civant skin kit, and thus they seem to stop popping up, but I still have the same old, hardened bumps that are still embedded in my skin. It's been over six months since they first appeared. I did some research and a carbuncle comes to mind. The only thing is pus is one of its symptoms, and I never had pus. I take pride in my hygiene. But maybe I am still doing something wrong? I had never experience this before my time here in Iraq. I am African American. Please help!


Posted Tue, 22 May 2012 in Skin Hair and Nails
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 10 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.

I can understand your concern for these bumps and from the symptoms these can be sebaceous cysts. They are small bumps that occur just beneath the skin surface and are common on the face and upper trunk. It can be filled with a cheese-like or oily material as well.

For removal, since they are involving the face, to have minimal scarring of the area, we can follow minimally invasive procedure of surgical excision. The advantage of surgical excision is that the cyst is treated in one session. What happens is that the tissue immediately surrounding the sebaceous cyst is injected with a local anaesthetic.

The cyst is incised and the contents squeezed out leaving the empty wall of the cyst. This can then be removed entirely through much smaller incision. One or two stitches may be required in the procedure.

Second method is by electrolysis method. In this a needle is placed into the sebaceous cyst and a current is passed through the needle into the skin. This breaks down the sebaceous cyst, releasing the contents and destroying the wall. However this is not pain free and requires specialization.

You can consult a good plastic surgeon and discuss these methods with him. Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your queries.

Wishing you a good health.

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