What are the symptoms of a sebaceous cyst?

A sebaceous cyst appears as a painless round bump in the skin. Sebaceous cysts vary in size, are generally pale colored, and are movable under the skin. Sebaceous cysts can occur anywhere on the body except on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. They tend to arise in places that are hairy, such as the scalp and the scrotum and chest in men. They are also common on the face, ears and arms.

Symptoms that might indicate a serious condition

Occasionally, a sebaceous cyst can become infected or develop into an abscess. Seek prompt medical care if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Drainage from the cyst

  • Pain

  • Redness, inflammation and swelling of the cyst


What is a sebaceous cyst?

A sebaceous cyst is a type of cyst that forms in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. A sebaceous cyst is also sometimes called an epidermal cyst. It forms when a sebaceous gland, an oil-producing gland in the skin, becomes blocked. This creates a sac that fills with a fatty yellow substance that can resemble cottage cheese.

Sebaceous cysts can be present at birth or ca... Read more about sebaceous cystintroduction


What causes a sebaceous cyst?

A sebaceous cyst occurs when an oil-secreting gland (sebaceous gland) in the skin becomes blocked. This creates a sac that fills with a fatty yellow substance. Sebaceous cysts are more likely to occur if you have the following risk factors:

  • Hereditary tendency to form cysts (Gardner syndrome, Gorlin syndrome)
  • High levels of testosterone

How is a sebaceous cyst treated?

Because sebaceous cysts are generally harmless and cause no pain, they may require no treatment. Sebaceous cysts may also go away without any treatment or by simply applying a warm compress a couple of times a day to help the cyst to drain or reabsorb into the body.

Occasionally, a sebaceous cyst may become infected, or it may grow large enough to cause embarrassment or discomfort... Read more about sebaceous cysttreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails

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