A sebaceous cyst is a closed-sac cyst or a bump just beneath the skin, that basically develops when the keratin (a protein) blocks a sebaceous gland. The cyst usually contains foul-smelling cheese-like substance within it. Sebaceous cysts can appear on any part of the body, excepting the soles of the feet and palms.
The appearance of these cysts is usually found to be more frequent in the hairier areas of the body including the scalp, ears, face, upper arm, chest, and may sometimes develop in places like vaginal area and scrotum. These cysts do not require any medical treatment unless they get infected. Even some simple home remedies can prove quite effective for curing small to medium-sized cysts.
Small sebaceous cysts usually disappear on their own without the need for any medical intervention. However, mild to moderate cases of sebaceous cysts can also be treated at home with the following home treatments:
- Warm Compresses: Take a warm and moist towel and place it over the cyst. You can also use a heating pad in place of a moist towel to apply heat on the sebaceous cyst for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Heat would help to melt the sebum or the hard content of the cyst, which in turn can get reabsorbed by the body, causing the cyst to shrink and heal gradually.
- Hygiene: Maintain proper hygiene by keeping the cyst and the surrounding area clean. You can use an antibacterial cleanser or soap to wash the affected area. Use oil-free skin care products and avoid using heavy makeup.
- Tea Tree Oil: If infection develops, you can use tea tree oil on the affected area. Tea tree oil is known for its antiseptic properties and hence, can help to drain out the cyst, thereby ensuring quick healing.
- Orange Oil: Orange oil can also prove beneficial for treating sebaceous cysts at home.
- Clay Mask: To dry out the cyst quickly, you can apply clay mask. Apply clay mask on the cyst and leave overnight. Next day, wash it off with clean water.
- Goldenseal Oil: This is another effective herbal remedy for sebaceous cysts. It can be especially beneficial for eliminating infection.
- Aloe Vera: Topical lotions consisting of aloe vera can be used to get rid of sebaceous cysts.
Along with these treatments, do not forget to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses daily to flush out toxins and harmful substances from the body, and avoid excessive exposure to sunlight. Also follow a balanced diet, with food rich in vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, B and zinc, and take enough rest to rejuvenate your skin.
Note: Never squeeze the cyst in an attempt to drain out its contents. This can infect the tissues of the surrounding area. Herbs and essential oils should be used judiciously, especially if you are allergic to any of them.
Sebaceous cysts can be caused due to a wide range of reasons. These include:
- Blockage of the sebaceous glands
- Swollen hair follicles
- Trauma to the skin
- Excessive secretion of testosterone
- Damage to the hair follicles
- Ruptured sebaceous glands due to inflammatory skin conditions like acne, and hereditary conditions like basal cell nevus syndrome and Gardner's syndrome.
The cysts can be identified by the presence of nodules or lumps below the skin, that can move freely. If infection develops, then the area can look red, inflamed and tender. These cysts are usually not painful, and they contain a foul-smelling, cheesy white substance that has been found to come out from the lump occasionally.
If the cysts are quite large and do not heal with home treatment, or when infection develops, then consider a visit to your dermatologist or physician. Even though sebaceous cysts can rarely lead to skin cancer, it is very important to properly diagnose severe and recurrent cysts. If the cysts become inflamed and infected, then they may require the administration of corticosteroids and antibiotics.
However, large cysts that are infected may require surgery. For carrying out surgery, anesthesia is injected into the area and then the cyst along with its content is removed surgically. There are basically three types of surgical procedures, traditional wide excision, minimal excision and punch biopsy excision, that are employed for treating sebaceous cysts.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.