What is a Sebaceous Cyst?

A sebaceous cyst is a round, dome-shaped skin bump filled with a semi-liquid and malodorous material.


Cysts of this kind tend to form on the neck, scalp, face, back, and chest, although they can appear anywhere on the body.


Sebum is a natural oil produced by sebaceous glands that helps keep the skin and hair follicles healthy. When the gland or duct becomes blocked or damaged, a cyst may form under the top layer of the skin, resulting in a raised lump.


Sebaceous cysts grow gradually and usually don't cause any pain. While they are not life-threatening, they can be removed if they are causing any issues or if they are not aesthetically pleasing.


If the cyst becomes inflamed, painful to the touch, and red, seeking medical attention as soon as possible is essential. Through the use of antibiotics at the early stages, it is possible to prevent the cyst from developing into an abscess.

What are the Symptoms of a Sebaceous Cyst?

Sebaceous cysts often present as tiny, soft bumps that are not painful to the touch. They tend to be smooth in texture and may vary slightly in size from person to person.


Skin tags can vary in size and can be quite large and uncomfortable. They can also form in areas prone to irritation, such as the neck, which can be aggravated by clothing or jewellery. If you are experiencing pain or irritation from a skin tag, it is best to consult with your doctor about treatment options.


An unpleasant odour may be present if infected as pus is pushed out from the affected area.


No matter your skin type, you may experience the signs of a sebaceous cyst. Therefore, it is crucial to seek medical advice if you notice any of the associated symptoms.

Sebaceous Cyst Causes

Your sebaceous glands excrete an oil known as sebum that keeps hair and skin follicles healthy by lubricating them. When these ducts or glands become obstructed or harmed, cysts form beneath the top layer of skin.

Scratches, acne and other skin conditions can lead to the swelling of a hair follicle, resulting in a cyst. It is also possible that heredity contributes to the development of these cysts. If someone in your family has had a cyst, you may be more susceptible to developing one.

When should you see a Doctor?

If you are concerned, a physical examination of the area can typically diagnose the cyst; in most cases, it is nothing to be concerned about.


A doctor should also be consulted if:

  • When you touch it, it cannot be moved

  • The diameter is at least three centimetres.

  • Symptoms of infection include redness, tenderness, and warmth.

  • If a cyst returns after being removed


In certain situations, you may be recommended to see a specialist for a more thorough evaluation or for laboratory tests to look for indications of any other underlying health issues.

Sebaceous Cyst Treatment

Surgery is the primary way of removing a cyst, typically done using local anaesthetic. While it is not necessary to have them removed for medical reasons in most cases, this procedure is often done for cosmetic purposes. However, if the cyst is not causing any issues, it is best to leave it alone.


If signs of infection appear, treatment is necessary. This can involve antibiotics or draining an abscess if one has formed.

Other Types of Cysts

Epidermoid cysts are often mistaken for sebaceous cysts, but they are different. Whereas sebaceous cysts are soft and more oversized, epidermoid cysts are hard and smaller. This is because epidermoid cysts form when skin cells don't shed properly, then migrate deeper into the skin and multiply.


Pilar cysts are lumps formed on the scalp that grow at the base of a hair follicle. Previously, these cysts were thought to contain sebaceous fluid, but it has since been determined that this is not the case. However, they can still be removed in the same manner as sebaceous cysts.

What should you do if you have a Cyst?

It is essential to consult a doctor if you have any cysts. A doctor can identify the type of cyst and tell you whether further treatment is necessary.


Without medical intervention, the cyst may increase in size, leading to discomfort or necessitating surgical removal.


Mobi Doctor offers online video consultations with doctors, which you can access from the comfort of your own home, workplace or while travelling. The consultation will enable the doctor to observe the cyst so that you may select a quiet, private location for your privacy.


After hearing your complaints, the doctor will review your medical records and take the necessary steps to diagnose your condition. Depending on the diagnosis, they may suggest a course of treatment or refer you to a specialist.



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