Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sebaceous Cysts


This photo was taken before the second growth started on the orignal one.

If you have not had breakfast yet or you have a queasy stomach then best NOT TO read this one or leave it for later in the day. Sebaceous cysts; a volcano like bump that is commonly found on dogs. It seems that no breed or mix is predisposed to these little annoying lumps so any dog is fair game. I don't remember the first time I saw one but it was on Tilley; she has now had them for years and it is has become a common attack strategy when we see one. First we take note; lump, next we wait and we wait and we wait until it decides to erupt and erupt it does, usually. They open up much like a volcano and release the contents which can vary from gray goo, maybe a little blood to tiny little dark gray pearls. The tiny beads are common and have been inside almost all of Tilley's and by tiny I mean like large sized grains of sand but there are a lot of them with the accompanying goo.

So what are Sebaceous cysts and what should you do about them? All dogs have oil glands in their skin; these are what produce the oil for their hair, which contain a substance called Sebum. When a hair follicle becomes blocked for some reason then the natural flow of oils cannot be expelled. This causes a backup so to speak and a lump can form; it can grow to a good size before it opens up, if it opens up. Tilley has had them when they simply dried up and went away but typically they have come to a head and opened. This is when great care must be taken to keep them clean; infection can set in fast and make matters far worse.

Tilley has had a huge lump growing on her for several years.  We have had it checked and the result was fatty cyst, nothing to worry about.  So over the years we have just watched it grow.  All along I had thought that it was a sebaceous cyst that just never opened.  Recently it started another lump on top of the  original lump, a little alarming.  Again I had a vet look at it and he was very unalarmed by it.  So I left the vets contemplating what to call this new thing.  It was big enough to now have a name.  Blunk; it has been called and remained the name associated with this monstrous bulb.  The cyst was the size of two golf balls, substantial to say the least. 

Just this past weekend I said to my husband "if it would just open up I could tend to it."  It had gotten so big that it was shiny; I assumed it could not get any bigger without splitting open.  It felt very much like a balloon filled with water.  Only a few days later she blew a leak.  A tiny spot of fluid ran down the side of the cyst; I quickly got a clean cloth and squeezed ever so gently.  A drip of what looked like coffee came out; strange.  But that was as far as we got, nothing more came out.  That was until yesterday morning when it started to leak again.

This shot was taken at the end of the squeezing; now changed color with some blood.

I quickly got Tilley outside in the sun and grabbed my glasses.  It was dripping out at a pretty good rate but what was coming out was again coffee like, very watery and dripping to the ground.  I grabbed a pile of napkins and applied a small amount of pressure.  The leak started in the newest section of the growth; this is what I thought I might be able to drain, if not the original growth.  As I squeezed I felt it give and gush; I now had a handful of coffee with what looked like a few grinds in it.  This was very different from other cysts.

I continued to press; coaxing the contents out of their encasement when there was another gush but this time it shot past the cloth and squirt across my shirt.  I had to laugh; this is what I'd wanted for her and this monster that was freeloading (be careful what you wish for).   It was at this point that I realized that the whole thing was unloading.  Tilley is such a trooper; a tougher dog I've not met.  A couple of times she glanced back at me as if to check on the status. 

The hole is quite small compared to the sized of the original blunk.

The coffee and grinds substance started to change resembling a consistency that I am accustom to.  It was getting gooey; filled with black and white tiny grains.  We had several big gushes; constant drizzling and lots of cloth changes until we reached a point where I thought we were just about done.  I tried a bit more pressure and had a couple more big gushes when I looked at the spot where this monster had lived for several years.  It was gone; almost.

Now I have to care for the open wound; luckily it is a very small hole.  We've had them before when the whole thing opened up.  So I will keep it clean; apply hot compresses and get the remaining goo out.  It will hopefully heal and regrow hair as the others have done.  This has been a monumental moment; I thought she was doomed to live with this montrous growth.

I've taken care of dozens of them; yes they are extremely gross but fairly easy to fix so to speak. If they open up; you use hot compresses, a cloth with warm water. As warm as your pup can stand and put it on top; let it sit and then gently squeeze. It may not seem like there is an end to the goo but there is; believe me. When you start to see blood; which may be a few days you are nearing the end. I like to keep neosporine all around the opening but not covering the opening. Best to keep a dry bandage on it if you can; this stops licking. Perhaps sit out in the sun with your pooch to let it dry without a bandage for a bit each day.

The hair may or may not grow back on the spot where the cysts formed; I've had it grow and not grow back. Problems can arise with a cyst if they do not come to a head and continue to grow . If they become red and warm to the touch; best to head to the vet. They are often removed surgically; but only if they become a problem.