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Sebaceous Cysts - Common Causes Behind it

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Akhilendra Singh 90% (116 ratings)
MBBS, MD - Dermatology
Dermatologist, Gurgaon  •  13 years experience
Sebaceous Cysts - Common Causes Behind it

Sebaceous cysts are also called as epidermoid cysts are characterized by the formation of small bumps beneath the skin, which are, however, noncancerous and can appear anywhere on the neck or face. Usually arising from sebaceous glands, sebaceous cysts are often harmless and take a long time to grow and develop. They normally do not cause any severe problems as such, but if they tend to be bothersome and painful, then you consult a doctor for treatment and diagnosis.

Signs and symptoms of sebaceous cysts include:

  1. Small, round bumps found underneath the skin.
  2. Formation of a thick, yellow, pungent-smelling material that may or may not leak from the cysts.
  3. Formation of small blackheads clogging the opening of the cyst.
  4. When inflamed, the area turns reddish in color and may swell up.

Causes behind it
Sebaceous cysts develop when the sebaceous glands or ducts are either damaged or clogged. Sebaceous glands generally secrete keratin and sebum, oils which are responsible for coating the hair and skin. Whenever they get blocked, these fluids accumulate, resulting in the formation of cysts. Whenever they get damaged, the cysts burst open and keratin oozes out as a thick and yellow fluid. Blockage or damage can occur because of any of the following reasons:

  1. Cuts, scratches and surgical wounds.
  2. Skin conditions like acne.
  3. Genetic problems like Garner's syndrome.
  4. Cell damage because of surgery.
  5. A deformed gland or duct.

A few factors which may make you more vulnerable to growing sebaceous cysts:

  1. If you have a history of acne.
  2. If you receive injuries to the skin.
  3. If you are past the age of puberty.
  4. If you have rare genetic disorders.

If the cysts trouble or bother you in any way, you should consider receiving treatment as they can cause further problems in the near future. These may include:

  1. Boil-like infections.
  2. Genital discomforts such as problems in urinating.
  3. Even when it is not infected, a cyst can get inflamed causing a lot of pain and uneasiness.
  4. Sebaceous cysts can, in extremely rare cases, lead to skin cancer.
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