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The sebaceous cysts are common non-cancerous cysts of the skin, composed of liquid or semi-liquid material. Present mainly on the face, neck or trunk, they are slow growing and do not represent a health hazard, although they can become rather "uncomfortable" and unsightly.
The causes of the sebaceous cyst
The sebaceous cysts they are formed - as can be guessed - by the sebaceous gland, which produces an oil, called sebum, capable of covering hair and skin. Cysts can develop if the gland or its duct (that is, the passage from which the oil is able to escape) is damaged or blocked. This usually occurs due to trauma to the area.
Regarding i trauma, the list is obviously extensive and varied: think of a scratch, a surgical wound or a skin condition, such as acne. Sebaceous cysts grow slowly, so the trauma may have occurred weeks or months before noticing the cyst.
Other causes of a sebaceous cyst can include a deformed duct, damage to cells during surgery, genetic conditions, such as Gardner's syndrome or basal cell nevus syndrome.
Symptoms of the sebaceous cyst
The small cysts they are not typically painful, but large cysts can be quite uncomfortable and, at times, noticeably painful. Large cysts on the face and neck can cause pressure and pain. Furthermore, large cysts can also be composed of white flakes of keratin, a key element that makes up the skin and nails. Most cysts are soft to the touch.
Areas of the body where cysts are usually found include the scalp, face, and back, but it's not uncommon for them to develop elsewhere as well.
Diagnosis of the sebaceous cyst
Doctors often diagnose one sebaceous cyst after a simple physical exam. If the cyst is "unusual," the doctor may order further tests to rule out possible tumors. You may also need these tests if you want the cyst to be surgically removed.
Common tests used for a sebaceous cyst include CT scans, which help the doctor find the best "way" for surgery and to identify abnormalities, ultrasound, which identifies the contents of the cyst, biopsy, which involves the removal of a small amount of tissue from the cyst to be examined in the laboratory for signs of cancer.
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The remedies for sebaceous cyst
Doctors can treat a cyst by draining it or surgically removing it. Normally, cysts are removed, but not because they are dangerous, but for cosmetic reasons. In any case, considering that most cysts are not harmful to your health, your doctor will always allow you to choose the treatment option that best suits your needs.
It is important to remember that without surgical removal, the cyst usually tends to come back. The better treatment is to ensure complete removal through surgery. However, some people tend to avoid surgery, because it could cause scarring.
The doctor may use one of the following methods to remove the cyst:
- conventional excision, which completely removes a cyst but can leave a long scar;
- minimal excision, which causes a minimal scar but carries the risk of the cyst returning;
- laser with punching biopsy, which uses a laser to make a small hole to drain the cyst of its contents (the outer walls of the cyst are removed about a month later).
After removing the cyst, the doctor may induce the use of one antibiotic ointment to prevent infections. It is recommended to use this product until the healing process is complete. You may also be given a cream to reduce the appearance of any surgical scars.
The sebaceous cysts they are generally not cancerous. Untreated cysts can become very large and may eventually require surgical removal if they become uncomfortable. If you opt for complete surgical removal, the cyst will most likely not return in the future.
In rare cases, the removal site can become infected. Contact your doctor if your skin shows signs of infection such as redness and pain, or if a fever develops. Most infections will go away with antibiotics.