A sebaceous cyst occurs when sebum, a white, oily substance produced by your hair follicle glands, collects in a closed sac beneath the surface of your skin. Although these small lumps are benign and generally painless, they are considered unsightly and can become irritated by friction from clothes or shaving. Occasionally a sebaceous cyst can become infected, causing pain, redness and swelling; this must be removed by a physician. Luckily, there are ways to treat sebaceous cysts safely.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Antibacterial soap
- Warm, wet washcloth or towel
- Sterile bandage or dressing (if needed)
- Heating pad or hot water bottle (optional)
See your doctor, who can make a small incision and drain the contents of a smaller cyst, or remove the entire sac if your cyst is larger. She can also rule out other, more serious skin conditions if you wish to cleanse the sebaceous cyst yourself.
Wash the cyst and the surrounding skin with antibacterial soap.
Apply a warm compress to the cyst for 20 to 30 minutes, three or four times daily. Continue treatment for one week or until you see an improvement.
Keep the area clean. If the cyst begins to drain, place a sterile dressing or bandage over the area, changing it daily. Monitor your condition closely, and have the cyst examined by your doctor if you notice a large amount of pus, pain or swelling at the site.
Tips and warnings
- Use a warm, wet washcloth or a hot water bottle or heating pad wrapped in a moist towel as a compress. Moist heat helps increase circulation to the area of the cyst and promotes healing.
- Make sure that the surface of your compress is clean and sterile.
- After your cyst has healed, wash twice a day with a mild antibacterial soap. Although sebaceous cysts cannot be prevented, keeping your skin clean will manage acne, a possible precursor to the condition.
- Avoid oil and grease. Select skin care products that are oil-free and labelled "noncomedogenic," which means they do not clog your pores. If you can, avoid extended exposure to environmental sources of oil and grease in your workplace.
- Be sure not to overheat your compress to avoid burns.
- Do not attempt to squeeze, pick, lance or remove the cyst yourself as a means of treatment. You could inadvertently infect the cyst, push the infection deeper or cause damage to surrounding tissue.
- Because cysts can recur if any part of the sac is left behind, removal by your physician may be necessary..
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