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Sebaceous Cyst FAQs

Following are the common questions about Sebaceous Cyst:

  1. What is sebaceous cyst?
  2. What causes sebaceous cyst?
  3. What are the symptoms of sebaceous cyst?
  4. Can sebaceous cyst cause cancer?
  5. What can happen if sebaceous cysts are not treated on time?
  6. Is it safe to pop a sebaceous cyst?
  7. How is sebaceous cyst diagnosed?
  8. What are the different methods to treat sebaceous cyst?
  9. How sebaceous cyst surgery is performed?
  10. What are the complications of sebaceous cyst surgery?
  11. How much does sebaceous cyst treatment cost?
  12. Is sebaceous cyst surgery covered under insurance?
  13. How long does it take to recover after sebaceous cyst surgery?
  14. How to prevent sebaceous cyst?
  15. Are there any home remedies that can alleviate the pain in sebaceous cyst?

Q. What is sebaceous cyst?

A. A sebaceous cyst is a slow-growing benign cyst that forms when the sebaceous glands underneath the skin gets damaged. They usually arise when the glands suffer from damage due to injuries, scratches, surgical wounds, or even acne. As the growth rate of these cysts is very slow, they are usually not visible for weeks or months.

Q. What causes sebaceous cyst?

A. The primary causes of sebaceous cyst are-

  • Damaged ducts of sebaceous glands present underneath the skin
  • Blocked ducts due to punctured hair follicles
  • Trauma on the skin
  • Misshapen or deformed ducts
  • Genetic conditions, such as basal cells nevus syndrome

Q. What are the symptoms of sebaceous cyst?

A. The symptoms of sebaceous cysts are-

  • A small lump just below the skin
  • The lump is painless
  • A small hole can be seen in the middle called the central punctum
  • Composed of white or yellow colored fluid with foul odor
  • The cyst will be tender and red (if become infected)

Q. Can sebaceous cyst cause cancer?

A. Normally, sebaceous cyst is not cancerous but they can become malignant in rare cases. If a cyst is turning cancerous, it will have the following symptoms-

  • Signs of infection such as pain, redness, or pus drainage from the cyst.
  • Has a very fast growth rate.
  • The diameter of the cyst is larger than 5 cms.

Normally, it is hard for a person to tell if a cyst is cancerous or not. Therefore, it is crucial that you consult a doctor and get his/her opinion to get the cyst treated.

Q. What can happen if sebaceous cysts are not treated on time?

A. Many people don’t realize this, but a sebaceous cyst should never be left untreated as it cause the following complications-

  • Inflammation- The cyst may become tender or swollen even if it is not infected.
  • Infection- There is a high possibility that the cyst will rub against a hard surface and may open up causing an infection. An abscess may also form inside the cyst that can be painful.
  • Rupture- If excess pus or liquid gets stored in the cyst, it may become like a boil or rupture on its own. Due to this, the cyst contents will leak out and cause infection in the surrounding skin as well.
  • Skin cancer- In rare cases, the cyst become cancerous as well and may spread the infection to other healthy tissues.

Q. Is it safe to pop a sebaceous cyst?

A. No. It is never safe to pop a cyst or to remove it yourself as it can cause inflammation and infection. The external environment not sterile and has millions of contaminants that can infect the wound. Therefore, it is not safe to try and remove the cyst in any way.

Q. How is sebaceous cyst diagnosed?

A. To diagnose a sebaceous cyst, usually a physical examination is sufficient. But to ensure that the cyst is not dangerous, the doctor may suggest other pathological tests, such as-

  • Ultrasound to determine whether the contents of the cyst is liquid or semi-solid.
  • Punch biopsy to look for signs of cancer.
  • CT scan to find the best path to access the cyst without damaging the nerves or the surrounding muscles. It also helps to identify abnormalities within the cyst.

Q. What are the different methods to treat sebaceous cyst?

A. The different techniques available for cyst removal are-

  • Lancing- A hole is created in the cyst to drain the cyst contents. The cyst wall is not removed through this procedure.
  • Conventional Wide Excision- A large/wide incision is made to cut out the cyst all at once. It is a highly invasive procedure but has minimal chances of recurrence.
  • Minimal Excision- It is a minimally invasive procedure where tiny incisions in the skin are made to remove the cyst carefully without causing major scarring.
  • Punch Excision- This procedure involves using a scalpel that looks like a cookie-cutter to excise the skin around the cyst altogether.
  • Laser-Aided Excision- In this removal procedure, a laser probe is used to create a hole in the cyst. The entire content of the cyst is drained and the cyst wall is also extracted carefully after a few days or weeks as required.

All of these techniques have pros and cons of their own and the doctor decides which technique would be more appropriate for sebaceous cyst treatment.

Q. How sebaceous cyst surgery is performed?

A. To prepare the patient for surgery, the doctor will give anesthesia to the patient to numb the area that will be treated. Once the anesthesia takes effect, the surgeon will proceed with the treatment as below-

  • An incision is made around the cyst (or laser is used to create a hole) depending on the technique used for the cyst removal.
  • The cyst contents are drained properly and cleaned to make the cyst wall clearly visible.
  • Along with the cyst contents, the sac is also removed properly to prevent the chances of recurrence. Sometimes, the cyst wall becomes fragmented and needs to be scraped. The scraping can be done with the help of an electrocauterization tool and the wall is destroyed completely.
  • Then the incision is closed with stitches, glue, or bandage, whichever is suitable and covered with bandage.

The wound is then left to heal and the doctor gives detailed instructions to the patient for after-care before discharging the patient.

Q. What are the complications of sebaceous cyst surgery?

A. Whether sebaceous cyst is being treated using lancing or surgical excision, there are several risks and complications associated with the procedure.

  • Reaction to anesthesia, such as malignant hyperthermia
  • Excessive bleeding during the surgery
  • Blood clots formation
  • Injury to the surrounding structures
  • Numbness or tingling sensation in the region
  • Swelling or bruising in the surgical site
  • Delayed healing and scarring
  • Infection in the wound
  • Cyst recurrence

Most of the post-surgery complications can be avoided successfully if the patient pays attention to the doctor’s advice and instructions precisely.

Q. How much does sebaceous cyst treatment cost?

A. Cost of sebaceous cyst treatment varies between Rs. 2500 to Rs. 40,000 approximately. The average expense of the treatment is around Rs. 15,000. The exact price may vary for each patient as the cost is calculated based on the factors below-

  • Number and size of the cyst
  • Location of the cyst
  • Severity or whether the cyst is infected or not
  • Technique used for removal
  • Doctor’s consultation and operating fee
  • Diagnostic tests and evaluation
  • Hospital admission, discharge, and bed fee
  • Post-surgery medications and support
  • Follow-up consultations

During the initial consultation, the doctor will give you an estimate of the overall expense of the treatment in your case specifically.

Q. Is sebaceous cyst surgery covered under insurance?

A. Yes. Sebaceous cyst surgery is covered under insurance plans offered by all private, public, and corporate insurance providers. If left untreated for a long time, the cyst can also become cancerous. Therefore, its treatment is critical and the entire treatment expense is covered by the insurance policy.

You can use either claim or reimbursement method to cover the expenses incurred during sebaceous cyst treatment. However, there is one condition that you must fulfil to get the claim, i.e., you have to be admitted to the hospital for at least 24-hours to get approval for the claim process. For more information, you can talk to the insurance providers.

Q. How long does it take to recover after sebaceous cyst surgery?

A. As sebaceous cysts are small, the recovery after the surgery is also short. On average, you will most likely need 7 days or so to heal completely after the cyst is removed. In the first few days after surgery, you may experience slight pain and discomfort. For this, the doctor will prescribe some pain medications. Gradually, you will be able to resume daily activities properly.

Q. How to prevent sebaceous cyst?

A. Preventing sebaceous cyst can be difficult as they usually arise when the sebaceous glands are blocked or damaged. And the glands can get damaged even from minor skin traumas, such as cuts or bruises. So, there is not much a person can do to prevent the formation of sebaceous cysts. The best thing that can be done is visiting a specialist the movement the lump appears.

Note- It is not necessary that if sebaceous glands are damaged, then a cyst will develop in the same place.

Q. Are there any home remedies that can alleviate the pain in sebaceous cyst?

A. Generally, it is the infected sebaceous cyst that causes pain. And there are several home remedies that you can try to get relief from the pain. The remedies include-

  • Warm compress
  • Apply castor oil, tea tree oil, turmeric, or coconut oil as they have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Try drinking apple cider vinegar or mix it with honey to reduce inflammation in the cyst.
  • Take a bath in epsom salt as it will cleanse the cyst and clear out the toxins.
  • Apple aloe vera gel to the cyst to get relief.

All these remedies will reduce the inflammation significantly, thereby alleviating the pain. However, all home ingredients may not have the same effect on the cyst. Therefore, it will be better if you talk to your doctor before trying out these remedies.