Cyst on patient’s back

Cysts are a type of liquid-filled bump that occur on the skin. Sebaceous cysts are a fairly common type of cyst. They appear most frequently on the face, upper body, and neck. Though they are not usually life-threatening, these cysts grow at a slow pace and can cause discomfort if they are not treated. If you believe you have one of these cysts, there is no reason to panic. A trip to the doctor’s office is required for proper diagnosis and treatment. Before you schedule an appointment with your dermatologist, though, keep reading to learn more about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of sebaceous cysts.

Sebaceous Cyst Symptoms

Small cysts are not usually painful, but larger ones, particularly ones on the face and neck, can range from slightly uncomfortable to unbearably painful. The majority of cysts are tender when you touch them. Sebaceous cysts are filled with keratin, the primary element that makes up the nails and skin.

Though they are usually noncancerous, there are some cases when more testing is required to determine the severity of the risk your sebaceous cyst may cause. Your doctor might consider this type of cyst to be unusual and potentially cancerous if it is larger than five centimeters across, it appears infected, or it resurfaces quickly after being removed.

Causes of Cysts

Sebaceous cysts develop from the sebaceous gland. This gland is responsible for producing sebum, the oil that coats your skin and hair. If the gland becomes blocked or damaged, a cyst may develop. This often occurs due to some kind of trauma like a scratch, acne, certain skin conditions, or a surgical wound. Because cysts form so slowly, the inciting accident could have happened weeks before you noticed the cyst.

Sebaceous cysts can also form because of certain genetic conditions, such as basal cell nevus syndrome or Gardner’s syndrome. Additionally, cysts can form because of misshapen sebaceous ducts or if cellular damage was caused during a previous surgery.

Doctor applying cotton ball to cyst

Treatment for Sebaceous Cysts

Cysts can be treated in one of two ways; they can be drained, or removed using surgery. Your dermatologist in San Diego, CAcan offer advice about which treatment is right for you, but ultimately it is your choice. Most people decide to go the surgical route, though not because sebaceous cysts are dangerous. They do it simply for cosmetic reasons.

Without surgery, most cysts will return at some point in the future. If you want to remove the cyst completely and prevent it from coming back, the best option is surgery. However, some people still opt to get their cyst drained because surgery can cause scarring.

If you decide to obtain surgery, there are a few different methods the dermatologist may use. These include:

  • Minimal excision
  • Conventional wide excision
  • Laser with punch biopsy excision

Following the Surgery

Following the procedure, your dermatologist may prescribe an antibiotic ointment. This ointment will prevent the area from becoming infected. You should continue using the cream until the cyst is totally done healing. The doctor may also give you a cream to reduce the risk of scarring following the procedure. In very rare cases, the removal site can become infected. If you notice any of the common signs of infection, like pain or redness, contact your doctor right away. In general, sebaceous cysts are not harmful and treatment is effective.

To schedule an appointment for treatment, contact us at Academic & Aesthetic Dermatology Consultants.