Cysts are harmless sack-like structures that are typically filled with a liquid, semi solid or gaseous material. They appear much like a blister. Cysts are very common and can occur anywhere in the body. 

Cysts are mostly benign (non-cancerous) and they occur as the result of any blockage in your body’s natural drainage systems. Here let’s take a closer look at skin cysts or sebaceous cysts.

What is a sebaceous cyst?

Skin cysts or sebaceous cysts are small, mostly painless bumps under the skin. They appear as slightly hardened fluid-filled bumps. These cysts are generally non-cancerous and therefore are harmless.

Sebaceous cysts are commonly found on the face, neck and torso. Their size can range from a few millimetres to over 5 centimetres. Sebaceous cysts do not tend to be painful or tender unless they become inflamed, damaged or infected. 

What is the cause of sebaceous cyst?

Sebaceous cysts arise from the sebaceous glands and they occur as the result of any blockage in the gland or its ducts (the passage for sebum). This can occur as the result of any trauma, a surgical wound or other skin conditions such as acne. 

Other causes of sebaceous cysts include any deformation or a defect in the duct, any damage to cells during a surgery or certain genetic conditions such as Gardner’s syndrome or basal cell nevus syndrome. 

What are the symptoms of sebaceous cysts? 

Sebaceous cysts appear as small lumps under the skin that are soft to touch. They are typically not painful unless they are large or infected. In case of any inflammation, the skin over the cyst may be red and/or warm.

Sebaceous cysts commonly occur on your scalp, face, neck, and torso. These cysts are easily diagnosed through a simple physical examination. 

If your doctor detects any abnormalities or suspects that the cyst can be cancerous, then they may recommend additional tests such as an ultrasound scan or a biopsy.

What is the treatment for a sebaceous cyst?

Sebaceous cysts do not require treatment unless they become inflamed and get troublesome. In such cases, it can be treated through drainage or surgical removal. Common methods for sebaceous cyst removal include:

  • Conventional wide excision. This is the conventional method of cyst removal, but this method can leave a long scar.

  • Minimal excision. This method uses a smaller incision, but there are chances of recurrence.

  • Laser-aided excision. Here the cyst is drained through a small incision made with the help of a laser.

  • Punch excision. Here the cyst and a small margin of the normal skin is removed with the help of a scalpel.

Once the cyst is removed you will be given an antibiotic ointment to apply over the area until it has healed properly. You may also be given a scar cream to reduce the appearance of any surgical scars. You can consult a dermatologist you notice signs of a sebaceous cyst.


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