What is a sebaceous cyst?
Sebaceous cysts are common cysts on the skin that are usually non-cancerous. Cysts are abnormalities in the body that may contain liquid or semi-liquid material. Sebaceous cysts are most commonly found on the face, neck, or torso. They grow slowly and are not life-threatening, but they may become uncomfortable if they go unchecked. A cyst is diagnosed with just a physical examination and a medical history. In some instances, a cyst may be investigated more closely for symptoms of cancer.
- What are the leading causes of sebaceous cyst?
- What are the significant symptoms pointing to a sebaceous cyst?
- How to diagnose a sebaceous cyst?
Sebaceous cysts are produced due to the malfunctioning of the sebaceous gland. The sebaceous gland makes the oil that covers the hair and skin (called sebum). If the gland or its duct (the passage from which the oil can exit) becomes weakened or blocked, cysts can develop. This usually happens when the nearby region of the gland faces some trauma. The trauma can take the form of a scrape, a surgical wound, or a skin disease, such as acne. Sebaceous cysts develop slowly. So, weeks or months before you find the cyst, the trauma may have occurred. Some other causes of sebaceous cyst include-
- Misshaped or deformed duct
- Cell damage during surgery
- Genetic conditions, such as Gardner Syndrome or Basal Cell Nevus Syndrome
Usually, tiny cysts are not painful. Large cysts can range from unpleasant to significantly painful. Large cysts can cause pressure and discomfort on the face and neck. Typically, this form of cyst is packed with white flakes of keratin, which is also the main component of your skin and nails. The majority of cysts feel soft to the touch. Areas where cysts are commonly located on the body include:
A sebaceous cyst is considered a problem (mostly cancerous)—when it has the following characteristics:
- A diameter greater than 5 centimeters
- After being removed, the rapid recurrence rate.
- Infection indications such as redness, discomfort, or discharge of pus
After a simple physical examination, physicians are often able to diagnose a sebaceous cyst. If your cyst is unusual, additional tests may be requested by your doctor to rule out possible cancers. You may also need these tests if you want the cyst to be surgically removed. The standard test for a sebaceous cyst include-
- CT scans that help your doctor find the best surgical route and detect anomalies.
- Ultrasounds that assess the cyst's content
- Punch biopsy, which involves extracting a small amount of tissue from the cyst to be checked for signs of cancer in a laboratory