Cysts can occur just about anywhere in your body. These pockets of fluid, blood, or tissue can be cosmetically bothersome and cause discomfort. They are also concerning because they’re not supposed to be there.
There are many types of cysts. A common form, known as a sebaceous cyst, often goes unnoticed or is dismissed as harmless. But there are times you need medical intervention.
Our team at Lakeland Surgical Clinic, PLLC, in Jackson, Mississippi, offers the following recommendations if you’re dealing with a cyst. Here’s how to identify a sebaceous cyst and when to seek treatment.
About sebaceous cysts
Sebaceous cysts typically appear as small painless bumps beneath the skin's surface. They are sometimes called epidermoid or keratin cysts.
Sebaceous cysts are noncancerous and develop due to blocked sebaceous glands, which produce an oily substance called sebum. When these glands become blocked, sebum accumulates and forms a cyst.
Sebaceous cysts commonly occur on the face, neck, back, or genitals, and their size can vary from pea-sized to larger.
Sebaceous cyst characteristics
Most sebaceous cysts exhibit specific characteristics distinguishing them from other cysts. A sebaceous cyst has the following features:
- Round or oval shape: Sebaceous cysts are usually symmetrical in shape with smooth and rounded edges
- Flesh-colored or yellowish: The cysts typically have a whitish or yellowish appearance and blend in with the surrounding skin
- Painless: In most cases, sebaceous cysts are not accompanied by pain unless they become infected or inflamed
- Slow growth: Sebaceous cysts grow slowly over time, and their size may remain stable for extended periods
You can develop a sebaceous cyst at any age.
When to be concerned
While sebaceous cysts are generally harmless, there are situations where our team should evaluate them.
If a cyst becomes red, swollen, warm to the touch, or increasingly painful, it may indicate an infection. Infected cysts can lead to complications and require medical treatment.
If a cyst suddenly grows in size or changes its appearance, it may be a sign of an underlying issue and should be examined.
Contact our team for an evaluation if a sebaceous cyst causes persistent pain or discomfort.
Rupture or drainage
If a cyst ruptures or drains pus or other fluids, medical attention is necessary to prevent infection and promote proper healing.
Cysts in areas prone to friction, such as under bra straps or on the buttocks, can become irritated or cause discomfort due to constant rubbing. A cyst can also rub against jewelry or get in the way of activities like writing or workouts. In these cases, medical intervention may be needed for relief.
Evaluation and treatment for sebaceous cysts
If you have a sebaceous cyst that causes concern, our team can assess the condition and recommend appropriate treatment options. Our team will visually examine the cyst when you arrive for your appointment. We may gently feel and press on it to assess its size, texture, and characteristics.
Sometimes, we order imaging, like ultrasound or MRI, to evaluate the cyst's composition and rule out other conditions.
We may recommend aspiration if the cyst is bothersome or causing aesthetic concerns. We’ll use a fine needle to drain its contents. Often, aspiration is enough to reduce its size or remove it completely.
In some cases, surgical removal of the cyst and the surrounding capsule is needed. Surgical removal is the best way to prevent recurrence.
While sebaceous cysts are often harmless and can be left alone to resolve naturally, they sometimes require medical intervention. If you or a loved one has a troubling cyst, contact our office to have it evaluated and treated. Call Lakeland Surgical Clinic, PLLC, today, or use the online tool to schedule your appointment.