What is Sebaceous Cyst? | Minnesota

Sebaceous cyst (Epidermoid cyst)


Sebaceous cysts are common benign cysts of the skin.They are small bumps that develop just beneath the skin on your face, neck, trunk and sometimes your genital area. They are slow-growing and often painless. Sebaceous cysts are almost always noncancerous, but in rare cases, they can give rise to skin cancers.

Sebaceous cysts:

  • Are round cysts or small bumps that are that are attach to the skin.
  • Are usually white or yellow, though people with darker skin may have pigmented cysts
  • Range in size from less than 1/4 inch to nearly 2 inches in diameter
  • May have a central opening that’s plugged by a tiny blackhead.
  • Occur on nearly any part of your body, including your fingernails, but are found most often on your face, trunk and neck.
  • Infection can occasionally occur, include thick, yellow material draining from the cyst that may have a foul odor and redness, swelling and tenderness around the cyst.


Sebaceous cysts form out of your sebaceous gland under skin. The sebaceous gland produces the oil called sebum that coats and lubricates your hair and skin. Cysts can develop if the gland or its duct, the passage where oil is able to leave, becomes damaged or blocked. This usually occurs due to a small trauma to skin.The small trauma may be a scratch or a skin condition, such as acne. Sebaceous cysts grow slowly, so the trauma may have occurred months before you notice the cyst.

Other causes of a sebaceous cyst may include:

a misshapen or deformed duct
damage to the cells during a surgery
genetic conditions, such as Gardner’s syndrome or basal cell nevus syndrome


The common complications include inflammation, rupture, and infection. In rare cases, sebaceous cysts can give rise to basal and squamous cell skin cancers. Because this occurs so seldom, Sebaceous cysts usually aren’t biopsied.

Treatments and drugs

Small cysts that don’t cause cosmetic or functional problems are usually left alone. When a cyst is inflamed, gets bigger, ruptured or infected, these treatment options exist:

Incision and drainage: your doctor makes a small cut in the cyst and expresses the contents. Although incision and drainage is relatively quick and easy, cysts often recur after this treatment.

Total excision: The surgical excision removes the entire cyst and so prevents recurrence. Total excision requires sutures.

Minimal excision: Your doctor makes a tiny incision in the cyst, expresses the contents, and then removes the cyst wall through the incision. The small wound is usually left to heal naturally.

What is Sebaceous Cyst | Minnesota

A sebaceous cyst is a benign, slow-growing cystic lesion of skin. It forms out of your sebaceous gland. The sebaceous gland produces the oil called sebum that coats your hair and skin. Cysts can develop if the gland or its duct becomes damaged or blocked due to a minor trauma to the skin.

Sebaceous cysts usually develop on acne-prone areas of the face, neck, and upper trunk. Cysts can also be found on the scrotum, behind the ears, and on the scalp. The cysts contain a cheesy, yellow material, and when rupturing, it releases the cheesy material into the tissue, producing redness, tenderness, and swelling.

cystSmall cysts are typically not painful. Large cysts can range from uncomfortable to considerably painful.

This type of cyst is typically filled with white flakes of keratin, which is also a key element that makes up your skin and nails.

The cyst can get infected. The infected cyst becomes an abscess, which cause pain, redness, swelling , and rupture, and skin scarring.

Doctors often diagnose a sebaceous cyst after a simple physical examination. If your cyst is unusual, your doctor may order additional tests to rule out possible cancers.

Minimal excision technique is a simple and effective method that entirely removes the cyst. A tiny cut is made in the skin, and the cyst contents are squeezed out. The cyst wall is pulled through the skin opening, which is so small that stitches aren’t necessary sometimes. If the entire cyst wall is removed, the cyst usually won’t come back.

The doctor may not be able to pull the cyst wall through the skin opening. Cysts that have been inflamed or previously ruptured may have extensive scarring around the cyst wall and be more difficult to remove. A more extensive surgical procedure may be needed if this happens.