What is a Sebaceous Cyst and How to Treat It


Sebaceous cysts are small lumps that develop under the skin on the face, neck, trunk, and sometimes in the genital area. They grow slowly, and although they are often painful, they rarely cause problems or need treatment.

Although we usually refer to epidermoid cysts as sebaceous cysts, they are different. True sebaceous cysts are less common. These arise from the glands that secrete the oily matter that lubricates the hair and the skin (sebaceous glands). The epidermoid glands arise from the cells that make up the outer layers of the skin (epidermis).

If the appearance of an epidermoid cyst bothers you, or if the cyst breaks or becomes infected, it can remove with surgically. Epidermoid cysts are almost always benign.

What is a Sebaceous Cyst

Description and Features

  • Cysts are small or round bumps that are easy to move with your fingers.
  • They are usually white or yellow, although people with darker skin may have pigmented cysts.
  • Their size can vary from a few millimeters to 5 centimeters in diameter.
  • They can appear on almost any part of the body, including the nails, but are found more frequently on the face, trunk, and neck.
  • Sometimes an epidermoid cyst has a central opening – the remnant of a hair follicle from which the cyst was originally formed – which is connected by a small black dot. Do not touch it; it is better to treat a dermatologist because of the risk of infection and scarring

Symptoms of Sebaceous Cysts

The signs and symptoms of infection that may occur from time to time are:

  • A thick, yellow material that oozes from the cyst and may have a foul odor.
  • Redness, swelling, and tenderness around the cyst.

When to request a medical consultation

Most epidermoid cysts are not harmful, but you may want them removed for aesthetic reasons. Consult your doctor if you have a cyst that:

  • It grows quickly.
  • It oozes.
  • It becomes painful.
  • It is in a place that is always irritated.


The surface of the skin (epidermis) is composed of a very thin protective layer of cells that the body continuously eliminates. Most epidermoid cysts form when these surface cells, instead of usually exfoliate, move deeper into the skin and multiply. It occurs most often in areas where there are small hair follicles and larger sebaceous glands (sebaceous glands), such as the face, neck, back, and groin.

Risk factor’s

Almost anyone can develop one or more epidermoid cysts, but these factors make it easier to develop:

  • Although they can occur at any age, epidermoid cysts rarely appear before puberty.
  • The male sex. Men are more likely to have epidermoid cysts.
  • Have a history of acne. Epidermoid cysts are especially common in people who have had acne.
  • Have a significant exposure to the sun.
  • Have skin lesions. Any traumatic injury – for example, catching the hand with the car door – increases the risk of an epidermoid cyst.

Cysts that do not cause aesthetic or functional problems are usually left untreated. To treat a cyst is inflamed, broken or infected, the following options exist:

  • Corticosteroid injections: Your doctor may inject an inflamed but uninfected sebaceous cyst with a corticosteroid to help reduce inflammation.
  • Incision and drainage: In this procedure, the doctor makes a small incision in the cyst and extracts the contents. Although incision and drainage are relatively quick and easy, cysts are often repeating after this treatment.
  • Total excision: This surgical technique eliminates the entire cyst and thus prevents it from reproducing. Cleavage is easier when the cyst is not inflamed. The doctor may first recommend a treatment for inflammation with antibiotics, steroids, or with an incision and drainage, and then, after a 4-6 week wait, the excision will be performed when the swelling resolves. Total excision requires sutures. The doctor will remove the stitches after a week or two weeks.
  • Minimal excision: Some doctors prefer this technique because it removes the entire wall of the cyst, but causes minimal scarring. During the procedure, the doctor makes a small incision in the cyst, extracts the contents, and then removes the cyst wall through the incision. The small wound usually heals on its own.
  • Laser: To minimize scars, your doctor may use a carbon dioxide laser to vaporize a sebaceous cyst on the face or a sensitive area


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