Sebaceous cyst — causes, symptoms, treatment

Causes of skin disease
Symptoms of the disease
Diagnosis definition
Disease classification
Sebaceous cyst treatment
Sebaceous cyst in children
Possible complications, prognosis, prevention
Traditional medicine

Causes of skin disease

Skin formation occurs on the basis of blockage of the sebaceous duct. The secret produced by it in large quantities does not have time to go outside and is compacted along the duct, which causes the gland to grow. Metabolic processes are disturbed, inflammation occurs. The body’s defenses are trying to protect healthy tissue from it and form a cavity (cyst), the basis of which consists of connective tissue.

A number of factors provoking the blockage of the duct are identified:

  • Neglect of the hygiene rules leads to the accumulation of dirt, dust, various particles in the skin pores.
  • Injuries to the skin caused by blunt or rough objects. The destroyed cells of the epidermis create congestion in the ducts, and a cyst appears. For the same reason, pustular acrodermatitis of Hallopeau may also occur.
  • Hormonal imbalance, as a result of which the secret acquires a thick consistency and is unable to reach the surface. Excessive production of male hormones (testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone) is the main cause of the thickening of the secret.
  • Cystic fibrosis is a rare disease in which all the glands in the body produce the secret of increased density.
  • During postmenopause in women, there is a noticeable decrease in the production of female hormones — estrogen. The chemical composition of sebum varies, which makes it difficult to exit through the ducts.

Symptoms of the disease

This type of pathology does not belong to the category of ailments, accompanied by a weakening of the body, lack of appetite. The patient does not even have a fever. Hemisphere formation appears. This is a sebaceous gland cyst, its pigmentation remains unchanged. Only with suppuration, it becomes noticeable, sometimes causes pain when you touch it. A person experiences discomfort in terms of an unaesthetic appearance, depending on the location of the formation.

The neoplasm can choose specific places on different parts of the body:

  • Coccyx.
  • Crotch.
  • Popliteal fossa.
  • Armpits.
  • Genitals.
  • Back.
  • Head.

As you can see, these are the areas with sebaceous glands. Therefore, the disease is excluded from the palms and feet.

The size of the cyst depends on the duration of the disease without the use of therapy. The minimum diameter is 0.5 cm (0.2 inches).

The photo shows how atheroma behind the ear looks:

Atheroma behind the ear
Atheroma behind the ear

When performing palpation, the lump shifts. The walls are dense because they are formed from durable connective tissue. But the cyst itself is soft. Touching it does not cause pain. The exception is purulent inflammation.

It is important to take into account the similarity of symptoms and their differences with the lipoma, fibroma, lymph node inflammation.


  • the sebaceous cyst has an elevation even at the initial stage;
  • the remaining formations become noticeable only with the growth.

Skin Mobility:

  • the cyst is only shifted with the skin because it is embedded in its tissue;
  • in the case of lipoma, fibroma and lymph node, the skin moves independently of the formation.


  • a cyst is soft;
  • lipoma is also soft;
  • fibroma and lymph node are tight.

Pain syndrome:

  • the sebaceous cyst does not cause pain on palpation. Pain may occur with suppuration;
  • lipoma and fibroma are also painless;
  • inflammation of the lymph node is accompanied by pain, especially when touched.

Diagnosis definition

Skin formation can be diagnosed with an external examination, it has a rounded shape.

At first glance, it seems that diagnosing such a disease is not difficult. However, complexity exists, and it lies in the similarity of signs of other entities, as mentioned above.

To clarify the presence of the disease ultrasound is used. In fact, it is the main diagnostic method. If necessary, laboratory tests are recommended in particular, with purulent inflammation. Puncture is performed to determine the character of the cyst’ contents.

An analysis of secretions is carried out to exclude dangerous diseases such as atopic acrodermatitis, caused by the action of Borrelia spirochetes.

Disease classification

According to the International Classification of Diseases, this formation is denoted by the code L72. Next, the cyst subspecies come:

  • 0 — epidermal.
  • 1 — trichilemmal.
  • 2 — steatocystoma multiplex.

Cystoid tumor belongs to the XII class of diseases.

Sebaceous cyst treatment

Cyst refers to formations requiring only surgical intervention. Home treatment against the sebaceous cyst does not exist. Whatever effective methods of treatment are used, it will not disappear. Thus, it is possible to achieve only temporary relief of the patient’s condition until the next relapse.

Depending on the form of the disease, appropriate methods are adopted. For purulent inflammation, an urgent surgical operation is indicated. Removal of a non-inflammatory sebaceous cyst is carried out according to an approved plan. The formation is removed along with the capsule and contents. Various techniques are used for this:

  • Classic is the most popular in terms of availability and cost. It is made as follows: a scalpel cut with a size corresponding to the diameter of the cyst is made. The content is removed, the wound is sewn up. A few days later, the stitches are removed. This method does not cause swelling.
  • In cases of laser treatment, the destruction of the formation is carried out using a laser beam directed at it. The advantages of the method are bloodlessness, an absence of relapse, a barely noticeable trace. The only negative point is the high cost and shortage of such equipment.
  • Radio wave method is used to burn pathological tissue with the force of intense radiation.
  • Electrocoagulation is a destruction of the disease focus on high-frequency electricity.
  • Argon plasma coagulation is performed by a special scalpel, at the end of which is a device with the plasma beam. Such equipment belongs to the category of super-precise, moreover, it is capable to cauterize the blood vessels and prevent bleeding at the same time with the excision. The advantages of this method of getting rid of the sebaceous cyst are undoubted. Availability is relative, clinics with such equipment are available only in regional centers and megalopolises.

No more than 20 minutes are needed to eliminate the formation. The surgery is carried out under local anesthesia.

Surgical treatment of non-inflammatory and purulent cysts is performed in the same way, but they differ fundamentally with the completion.

A planned surgical removal of a non-inflammatory ailment ends with the suturing of a wound, which contributes to the rapid fusion of tissues. Suppuration is a contraindication for stapling wounds, the doctor is limited to applying a bandage with an antiseptic.

Also, in cases of laser or argon procedures, the wound is left unstitched, a rubber tissue is used, and a bandage is applied.

In the photo, a surgical operation to remove a cyst:

In the photo, a surgical operation to remove a cyst

Sebaceous cyst in children

Its occurrence in the newborn has a hereditary nature. The imperfect hormonal system of the infant is unable to control the functioning of the sebaceous glands.

Sometimes the reason is the wrong care from parents, excessive infatuation with children’s cosmetics, the use of a thick comb to remove dry crusts from the scalp of an infant. The appearance of skin disease may be due to other reasons:

  • The presence of seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Prickly heat in cases of impaired thermoregulation of the baby’s body.

Skin formation seems immobile when you touch it, it is soft. Inflammation of a cyst in a newborn results in a cheesy mass. This is an important signal to seek for medical help.

Sebaceous cyst in children differs from a similar ailment in adults by such symptoms as itching, redness, swelling.

It is extremely rare, but still, there are cases of congenital ear cysts, it is a ball with a diameter of 0.5 to 2 cm (0.2 inches to 0.8 inches), located in the front side of the ear of a newborn. This kind of defect does not affect the state of the baby and does not pose a threat to health.

The infant’s body is not ready to fight such severe inflammations that are fraught with the sebaceous cyst. Therefore, when the first signs appear, you should immediately consult a doctor.

Children may have acrodermatitis in form of Gianotti-Crosti syndrome, as a result of which atypical papules appear. They are very similar in the appearance to a sebaceous cyst.

Possible complications, prognosis, prevention

In order to avoid complications, it is necessary to observe postoperative care. The doctor controls the course of the recovery phase. Daily bandaging and examinations are carried out by a doctor. In the inflamed form, rubber tissue is changed each day and the wound is treated with antiseptic agents.

For complete wound healing, it will take about 14 days. If after this time the patient has a fever, this indicates a possible recurrence. If the fever does not go away after 3 days, then you can be sure about the presence of infection. The patient is prescribed anti-inflammatory therapy using Levomekol ointment.

If the bandage is soaked with blood, drugs that promote blood clotting are used. Heparin, Clopidogrel, Cardiomagnyl, Thrombo ASS are among them.

If at the time of the home bandaging there are signs of a non-healing wound, this is a signal to return to the doctor.

With the non-inflammatory nature of the disease, the prognosis is naturally more favorable. In cases of suppuration, it is not always possible to avoid relapses. However, you should not be afraid that a sebaceous cyst can transform into a malignant tumor. Such cases are not registered.

Preventive measures include personal hygiene. Given that this pathology often appears in oily skin, it is necessary to apply means to normalize the level of skin oil.

Traditional medicine

According to the reviews and opinions of most people, treatment with herbs and improvised means can provide significant relief from various ailments, including skin tumors. It is worth noting that popular recommendations are not able to completely beat the disease, but only help to prevent suppuration.

Aloe juice

Grate 2 large aloe leaves, squeeze out the juice. Wipe the sore spot every day (the juice has to be fresh each time). It has an effective anti-inflammatory effect.

Mutton fat

Add a bit of sunflower oil and garlic juice to the melted mutton fat. When mixed, put it in a convenient jar. Apply it to a sore area every day.

Burdock with butter

Chop the burdock root, add butter, and hold it in a dark place for three days. The medicine is ready for external use.
Egg membrane

Carefully separate the membrane from the shell and apply it to the focus of the disease. Despite redness or swelling, continue the procedure at least 3 times. As a result, the pus will come out.

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