Sandra writes: “But what if my dog has small ones [sebaceous cysts] that kind of pop up like black dots? I gently squeeze them, the contents come out and his skin heals just fine. Is that ok? It’s pretty much like popping a human pimple.”
Just can’t resist them, can you, Sandra?
I know it’s tempting. Unlike Nike, though, I’m going to ask you to Just NOT Do It.
There is a big difference between sebaceous cysts of dogs and pimples in people. Pimples are almost immediately colonized by the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes.
“Healthy” sebaceous cysts in dogs and cats are sterile, totally lacking in bacterial population. The biggest cause of complications with sebaceous cysts, and the most likely factor to cause them to need surgical excision, is infection. As long as they are sealed from the outside they usually don’t become infected. If they aren’t infected they don’t cause problems unless they become excessively large.
The latter problem is rare.
The former problem can be avoided by leaving them alone.
If you can.
It is also possible that what Sandra’s dog has is not a sebaceous cyst at all, but a comedo. These are most likely to appear in miniature Schnauzers, but can occur in any breed or individual.
A comedo is similar to a pimple, in that it is a collection of oily material in a pore. It is black because of exposure to oxygen and accumulation of debris. Comedones are best emptied by use of benzoyl peroxide shampoos, which have “follicular flushing action,” the ability to go down inside pores and hair follicles and remove foreign material.
Click here for instructions on proper use of medicated shampoos. Of course, as always, follow your pet’s doctor’s advice if it conflicts with ours.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph