Last updated date: 06-Jun-2023
Originally Written in English
Sebaceous Cysts Symptoms & Treatment
Sebaceous cysts are common benign growths that develop beneath the skin when the sebaceous gland becomes blocked or damaged. These cysts are typically painless, slow-growing, and can occur anywhere on the body, although they are most commonly found on the face, neck, back, or trunk. While sebaceous cysts are generally not a cause for concern, they can become inflamed, infected, or rupture if left untreated.
What are the Sebaceous Glands?
Sebaceous glands are small glands located within the skin that secrete an oily substance called sebum. These glands are found all over the body, but are most abundant on the face, scalp, neck, and chest.
Sebum is an important natural lubricant that helps to keep the skin soft and moist, while also protecting it from external factors like bacteria, fungi, and UV radiation. Sebum also helps to prevent the skin from drying out by trapping moisture in the hair follicles and on the surface of the skin.
The production of sebum is regulated by hormones, particularly androgens such as testosterone, which is why sebaceous glands tend to be more active during puberty and adolescence. Overproduction of sebum can lead to oily skin, clogged pores, and acne, while underproduction can result in dry skin and other skin problems.
What is a Sebaceous Cyst?
A sebaceous cyst is a non-cancerous lump that forms beneath the skin. It typically arises when a hair follicle or oil gland becomes blocked, causing a buildup of oily or waxy substance called sebum, and creating a pocket or sac that fills with a thick, yellowish-white fluid.
Sebaceous cysts can occur anywhere on the body, but are commonly found on the face, neck, chest, and back. They are usually painless, slow-growing, and harmless, but can sometimes become infected, causing redness, tenderness, and pus-filled discharge. Treatment may involve surgical removal or draining the cyst contents.
Are Sebaceous Cysts common?
Yes, sebaceous cysts are relatively common. They can occur in people of any age, but are more common in adults. Sebaceous cysts can form on any part of the body, but are most frequently found on the face, neck, and trunk.
Sebaceous cysts are usually harmless and do not require treatment unless they become inflamed, infected, or cause discomfort. However, they can sometimes be unsightly or grow in size, which may prompt individuals to seek medical attention for cosmetic or practical reasons.
People who are prone to acne or have a history of skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, or eczema may be at a higher risk of developing sebaceous cysts. Additionally, those who have suffered skin trauma or injury, such as cuts or puncture wounds, may be more likely to develop sebaceous cysts in the affected area.
What’s the difference between a Cyst and a Boil?
A cyst and a boil are both types of skin lesions, but they are different in several ways.
A cyst is a closed sac or pocket of tissue that contains fluid, air, or other material. It is typically benign and can occur anywhere in the body, including the skin, organs, and tissues. Sebaceous cysts are a type of cyst that forms within the sebaceous glands.
A boil, on the other hand, is a skin infection that starts in a hair follicle or oil gland. It is a painful, red, raised lump that is usually filled with pus. Boils can occur anywhere on the body, but are most commonly found on the face, neck, armpits, buttocks, and thighs.
While both cysts and boils can be treated with antibiotics, the treatment approach is different depending on the underlying cause. Cysts are often removed surgically, while boils may require incision and drainage to remove the pus and alleviate the pain.
In summary, a cyst is a closed sac or pocket of tissue that contains fluid, air, or other material, while a boil is a skin infection that starts in a hair follicle or oil gland and is usually filled with pus.
What causes Sebaceous Cysts?
Sebaceous cysts are usually caused by a blockage or damage to the sebaceous gland, which leads to the accumulation of sebum and the formation of a cyst.
Some common causes of sebaceous cysts include:
- Hormonal imbalances: Changes in hormone levels, particularly androgens, can increase the production of sebum, which can lead to the formation of cysts.
- Trauma: Injury to the skin, such as a cut, puncture wound, or surgical incision, can cause the sebaceous gland to become blocked or damaged, resulting in the development of a cyst.
- Congenital defects: Rarely, sebaceous cysts can be present at birth due to inherited genetic disorders.
- Skin conditions: Certain skin conditions, such as acne, rosacea, and hidradenitis suppurativa, can increase the risk of developing sebaceous cysts.
- Environmental factors: Exposure to certain chemicals, such as tar and paraffin, can also increase the risk of sebaceous cysts.
In most cases, sebaceous cysts are harmless and do not require treatment unless they become inflamed, infected, or cause discomfort. However, it is important to consult a healthcare professional if you notice any unusual changes in your skin, such as the sudden appearance of a new lump or growth.
What are the symptoms of Sebaceous Cysts?
Sebaceous cysts often do not cause any symptoms and may be noticed as a painless, round or oval lump under the skin. However, in some cases, they can cause the following symptoms:
- Swelling: The cyst may cause a noticeable swelling or bump under the skin.
- Redness: The skin over the cyst may become red or inflamed if the cyst is infected.
- Pain or tenderness: The cyst may cause pain or tenderness if it is pressing on a nerve or if it becomes inflamed or infected.
- Discharge: If the cyst becomes infected, it may discharge a thick, yellowish fluid or pus.
- Foul odor: In rare cases, an infected cyst may have a foul odor.
- Growing in size: If the cyst continues to grow in size, it may become more noticeable or uncomfortable.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to see a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. Sebaceous cysts can usually be easily diagnosed by a physical examination, but in some cases, imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.
Do certain foods worsen or improve a Sebaceous Cyst?
There is no evidence to suggest that certain foods worsen or improve a sebaceous cyst. However, maintaining a healthy diet and good hygiene practices can help prevent skin conditions and reduce the risk of infections that can lead to cysts or make them worse.
To prevent skin conditions, it is recommended to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources. Staying hydrated by drinking enough water and avoiding processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol can also help improve skin health.
Good hygiene practices such as washing the affected area with warm water and gentle soap can help prevent infections and reduce the risk of cysts becoming inflamed or infected. It is important to avoid picking or squeezing sebaceous cysts, as this can lead to further infection and scarring.
If you have a sebaceous cyst, it is important to seek medical attention if it becomes painful, inflamed, or infected. A healthcare professional can assess the cyst and provide appropriate treatment, which may include draining the cyst, administering antibiotics, or surgically removing the cyst.
How are Sebaceous Cysts diagnosed?
Sebaceous cysts are usually diagnosed by a healthcare professional during a physical examination. The healthcare professional will visually inspect the cyst and may apply pressure to determine if any discharge is present. They may also check the size, shape, and location of the cyst and ask about any symptoms you may be experiencing.
In some cases, imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI may be used to confirm the diagnosis or to assess the size and location of the cyst. These tests can also help to rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms, such as lipomas or abscesses.
If the healthcare professional suspects that the cyst is infected, they may also order a laboratory test to check for the presence of bacteria or other microorganisms.
How are Sebaceous Cysts treated?
Sebaceous cysts are usually harmless and may not require treatment unless they become inflamed, infected, or cause discomfort. However, if treatment is necessary, the following options are available:
- Observation: If the cyst is small, painless, and does not cause any other symptoms, your healthcare professional may recommend simply observing it over time to see if it changes or grows.
- Drainage: If the cyst is infected or causing discomfort, your healthcare professional may drain it using a small incision and remove the cyst contents. The procedure may be done under local anesthesia, and recovery time is usually quick.
- Antibiotics: If the cyst is infected, antibiotics may be prescribed to help clear the infection.
- Surgical removal: If the cyst is large, causing discomfort, or is recurrent, your healthcare professional may recommend surgical removal of the cyst. The procedure involves making an incision to remove the entire cyst. In some cases, stitches may be required to close the incision.
Sebaceous Cyst Removal Recovery
The recovery time after sebaceous cyst removal depends on the size and location of the cyst, as well as the type of procedure used to remove it. Here are some general guidelines for recovery after sebaceous cyst removal:
- After the procedure, you may experience some discomfort, swelling, or bruising around the area where the cyst was removed. Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve these symptoms.
- Keep the wound clean and dry to prevent infection. Your healthcare professional will give you instructions on how to care for the wound, which may include keeping it covered with a sterile dressing or bandage.
- Avoid strenuous activity or heavy lifting for a few days after the procedure to allow the wound to heal properly.
- Depending on the type of procedure used to remove the cyst, stitches may be required to close the incision. You will need to follow your healthcare professional's instructions on when to return to have the stitches removed.
- You may experience some scarring after the cyst removal. The appearance of the scar may improve over time, but it will not completely disappear.
Overall, most people can return to their normal activities within a few days after sebaceous cyst removal, but recovery time may vary depending on individual circumstances. Your healthcare professional can provide more specific instructions for your recovery based on your individual situation.
Are there any at-home remedies that can help with Sebaceous Cysts?
While there are no specific at-home remedies that can cure sebaceous cysts, there are some steps you can take to help prevent them and reduce the risk of infection or inflammation. Here are some tips:
- Good hygiene: Keeping the affected area clean and dry can help prevent infections that can lead to sebaceous cysts. Wash the area gently with warm water and mild soap, and avoid using harsh or fragranced products.
- Warm compresses: Applying a warm compress to the affected area for 10-15 minutes several times a day can help reduce inflammation and pain associated with the cyst. This can also help promote drainage of the cyst, although it is not recommended to try to drain or remove the cyst at home.
- Tea tree oil: Some people find that applying a small amount of tea tree oil to the cyst can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. However, it is important to dilute the tea tree oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil before applying it to the skin, and to test for any allergic reaction first.
- Avoiding squeezing or picking: Trying to squeeze or pop a sebaceous cyst can lead to infection, scarring, or other complications. It is best to avoid touching the cyst and seek medical attention if it becomes painful or inflamed.
How can I reduce my risk of Sebaceous Cysts?
There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing sebaceous cysts:
- Practice good hygiene: Keeping your skin clean and dry can help prevent the buildup of oil and bacteria that can contribute to sebaceous cysts. Be sure to wash the skin gently with warm water and mild soap, and avoid using harsh or fragranced products that can irritate the skin.
- Avoid skin trauma: Trauma to the skin, such as cuts, scrapes, or punctures, can increase the risk of developing sebaceous cysts. Take precautions to protect your skin when engaging in activities that may cause skin trauma.
- Avoid using heavy cosmetics or hair products: Heavy cosmetics or hair products that contain oils or waxes can clog the pores and contribute to sebaceous cysts. Use non-comedogenic products that are less likely to clog the pores.
- Manage skin conditions: Certain skin conditions, such as acne or folliculitis, can increase the risk of developing sebaceous cysts. If you have a skin condition, work with your healthcare professional to manage it effectively and reduce the risk of complications.
- Avoid squeezing or picking at cysts: Squeezing or picking at sebaceous cysts can lead to infection, scarring, or other complications. It is best to avoid touching the cyst and seek medical attention if it becomes painful or inflamed.
While it is not always possible to prevent sebaceous cysts from developing, taking these steps can help reduce your risk and promote healthy skin. If you have concerns about sebaceous cysts or other skin conditions, talk to your healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment recommendations.
Outlook for a Sebaceous Cyst
In general, sebaceous cysts are benign and rarely cause serious complications. If left untreated, they may persist or grow in size, and can occasionally become infected, which can cause pain, redness, and swelling in the affected area. In some cases, they may also rupture and leak a foul-smelling, cheesy material.
Treatment for sebaceous cysts typically involves draining the cyst or surgically removing it. With proper treatment, most sebaceous cysts can be effectively treated and have a good prognosis. However, it is possible for the cyst to recur after treatment, particularly if the entire cyst sac is not removed during surgical removal.
In conclusion, a sebaceous cyst is a benign growth that develops beneath the skin when the sebaceous gland becomes blocked or damaged. It is typically painless and can occur anywhere on the body, but most commonly appears on the face, neck, back, or trunk. While sebaceous cysts are generally not a cause for concern, they may become inflamed, infected, or rupture if left untreated. Treatment options include draining the cyst or surgically removing it, and with proper care, most sebaceous cysts can be effectively treated.