Sebaceous Cysts are closed sacs located beneath the skin’s surface that contain a white cheesy substance known as keratin. These are also known as epidermoid cysts or epidermal cysts. The cysts are commonly seen on the body parts that comprise small hair follicles, such as the face, scalp, arms, neck, ears, back, and the genital parts. More common in men, sebaceous cysts can affect any body part except the palms and the soles.
The commonest cause of Sebaceous Cysts is the abnormal proliferation of the epidermal cells on the skin. The skin’s epidermis contains a thin layer of protective cells, which shed at regular intervals. However, at times the cells do not exfoliate and enter in to the deeper layers of the skin and grow. Trauma to the skin, damage to hair follicles, and sebaceous glands rupturing may lead to the formation of sebaceous cysts. Less frequently, cysts may be caused due to genetic illness, such as Gardner’s Syndrome or a defect in the fetus development.
The most noticeable symptom of a cyst is the appearance of a lump beneath the skin; the lump is most often non-painful. There can be multiple cysts, which appear as round, smooth, mobile shaped and whitish yellow in color. Sebaceous cysts can be as small as five millimeters or as large as five centimeters. Although uncommon, infection in the cysts can cause swelling, redness, tenderness, and pain in the surrounding area. The Sebaceous Cysts generally burst after two or three days. A thick, cheese-like fluid, which is whitish-gray in appearance and smells foul, oozes out of the burst cyst.
Generally, the sebaceous cysts are diagnosed through a physical examination of the affected region. The physician may undertake a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. The cysts disappear on their own at the end of a few days and hence do not require any form of treatment. However, if the cysts cause pain then these may require treatment. The cysts are treated by administering some steroids and antibiotics.
Treatment of larger Sebaceous Cysts requires removing these by either the conventional open excision method or the modern minimal excision method. The former method is recommended for recurring cysts that are internally ruptures. The latter technique is used to treat sebaceous cysts that are not ruptured. Traditional excision leaves a scar but curtails the recurrence of the cysts. In comparison, although there is no visible scarring under the second method, the probability of recurrence is high.