What are Sebum?
The term “sebum” refers to a mixture of oil and water-based secretions produced by the sebaceous glands. These secretions are made up of various types of fatty acids, waxes, proteins and other substances. They have been known to cause skin irritation due to their smell.
How do Skin Cysts Affect Your Health?
Skin Cysts (Sebaceous Cyst) are benign growths which may appear anywhere on your body, but most commonly on the face. They are usually tiny, painless lesions that can develop when you have abnormally narrowed or blocked hair follicles. They cause problems when they begin to fill with sebum (oil), skin cells and other substances that are produced by your skin. This can cause them to swell and form a small, translucent bump near the surface of your skin. Although they can sometimes become infected, most of the time they are totally harmless.
Here Are the Facts:
Sebaceous cysts are noncancerous (benign) growths that form when you have blocked or damaged hair follicles. They form when keratin, skin cells and oil (called sebum) become trapped inside the hair follicle. The sebum makes the cyst grow larger. Some of these cysts can be painful and make the skin swell.
Do I Need to See a Dermatologist?
Most of the time, you can treat sebaceous cysts at home. If your cyst opens on its own or starts to cause problems (like infection), you might need medical treatment. In some cases, skin tags or sebaceous cysts can become infected. If this happens, you might need to see a dermatologist.
What Does It Look Like?
Sebaceous cysts usually appear as small, dome-shaped lumps near your hair follicles. They can be yellow, brown or white in color. They are often the same size as your skin papilla (the small stalk that connects the hair and the skin).
How Can I Prevent Skin Cysts?
Maintaining good hygiene can help prevent skin cysts. This includes washing your face twice a day and drying it completely. Try not to touch the skin cyst, because this can lead to infection.
Do I Need Surgery?
Sebaceous cyst is removed by surgery. The location of the cyst and your preference determine the type of surgery. The most common surgeries are incision biopsy, injection of the cyst with a sclerosing agent, punch biopsy and complete excision (cutting out the cyst).
How Do I Get Rid of My Skin Cysts?
If you have a skin cyst, you have several treatment options. You may be able to treat the cyst at home. If that doesn’t work or if the cyst starts to cause problems, you might need medical treatment.
Here Are the Options:
1. Wait and Watch
When you have a small skin cyst that doesn’t cause problems, your doctor may recommend that you wait and watch it. The cyst should eventually go away on its own. Check your cyst every few weeks. If it doesn’t get bigger or if it causes problems, you may need medical treatment.
2. Over the Counter Products
You can also use over-the-counter products to help treat your skin cyst. The active ingredient, salicylic acid, helps remove the top layer of skin and unclog pores. The other ingredients help protect your skin and speed up healing.
Apply the products to the cyst daily. Leave it on for several hours and then wash it off. You can also buy a medicated skin cleaner that contains benzoyl peroxide.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Proliferating epidermoid cysts (EW Jones – Archives of Dermatology, 1966 – jamanetwork.com)
- Circumscribed fibrocystic mastopathy with formation of an epidermal cyst. (PK Chantra, JT Tang, TM Stanley… – … . American journal of …, 1994 – Am Roentgen Ray Soc)
- Treating a sebaceous cyst: an incisional technique (M Nakamura – Aesthetic plastic surgery, 2001 – Springer)
- A new procedure for treating a sebaceous cyst: removal of the cyst content with a laser punch and the cyst wall with a minimal postponed excision (HL Wu, SJ Wang, LJ Wu, SS Zheng – Aesthetic plastic surgery, 2009 – Springer)
- Carcinomatous change in cysts of skin (LW Mc DONALD – Archives of Dermatology, 1963 – jamanetwork.com)
- Excision of epidermoid (sebaceous) cyst: description of the operative technique (MT Suliman – Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 2005 – journals.lww.com)
- The myth of the sebaceous cyst (AM Kligman – Archives of Dermatology, 1964 – jamanetwork.com)
- Sebaceous cysts are trichilemmal cysts (H Pinkus – Archives of Dermatology, 1969 – jamanetwork.com)