Sebaceous cysts can appear on any part of your body where hair grows. These harmless bumps under your skin appear when sebaceous glands get blocked for some reason. The most common places on your body for sebaceous cysts to appear are on your head, neck, and chest. Unlike other cysts which fill up with fluid, sebaceous cysts are filled with sebum which is the oil excreted by your sebaceous glands.
Usually, the only symptom of a sebaceous cyst is a bump or small lump under your skin. Because the growth is not harmful, doctors generally don’t recommend removing them. However, a warm compress is usually the most common way to quickly get rid of a sebaceous cyst at home.
In this article, you will find out what sebaceous cysts are and what causes these lumps under your skin. You will also learn about some home remedies that can help to drain the cysts and get rid of them for good.
What is a Sebaceous Cyst?
Every hair follicle contains a tiny sebaceous gland which produces an oily substance called sebum. If these glands or follicles get blocked, the oil builds up in the gland causing a sebaceous cyst to appear. Dr. Stephanie S. Gardner on WebMD says that these cysts are usually small, painless lumps that appear under the skin.1
Many people refer to sebaceous cysts as epidermoid or pilar cysts. However, true sebaceous cysts aren’t epidermoid cysts.
The difference between sebaceous cyst and epidermoid cyst
According to doctors at the Mayo Clinic, sebaceous cysts are less common than epidermoid cysts. The difference between the two is that epidermoid cysts form when the protein keratin blocks hair follicles or oils glands. Sebaceous cysts appear when sebum – the oil that protects your skin – blocks a gland.2
However, the visible symptoms of both these types of cysts are very similar.
Causes and Symptoms of a Sebaceous Cyst
The main symptom of a sebaceous cyst is a painless lump under your skin.
Dr. William H. Blahd on WebMD says that sebum-filled cyst contains a cheese-like substance. The cyst will be firm and easy to move. Usually, the lump will be a yellow, white, or flesh-colored bump. However, if the cyst becomes infected, it will turn red and show signs of inflammation.3
The University of Maryland says that as well as becoming inflamed, an infected sebaceous cyst will be tender to touch, feel warm, and may ooze a greyish-white foul smelling substance.4
Apart from being caused by a buildup of oil in the sebaceous glands, the University of Maryland also says that skin injury and genetic factors can also cause cysts to form.
Can Sebaceous Cysts Go Away on Their Own?
According to the website Drugs.com, sebaceous cysts sometimes go away on their own. However, many people want to get rid of sebaceous cysts for cosmetic reasons or if it is causing irritation. If the cyst shows signs of infection, you should visit your doctor to drain the cyst and treat the infection.
Should you remove a sebaceous cyst?
Sebaceous cysts should be removed if they become infected. However, you should never try to pop, cut or drain a sebaceous cyst yourself. Dr. Stephanie S. Gardner on WebMD warns of 2 possible consequences of removing a sebaceous cyst yourself:5
Risk of infection. Trying to pop the cyst yourself increases the risk of infection. If the cyst bursts under the skin, the bacteria could infect surrounding tissue and spread the infection.
The cyst can grow back. Removing a cyst yourself may not get rid of it for good. If any part of the sac is left behind, then the cyst will probably return.
Usually, the best way to deal with a sebaceous cyst that isn’t infected is to leave it alone. However, you can also try some effective home remedies to get rid of sebaceous cysts.
How to Get Rid of Sebaceous Cysts – The Best Home Remedies
These natural home remedies for cysts help to reduce swelling and cause the cyst to drain naturally and safely. These natural sebaceous cysts treatments will also help to prevent infections and scarring from removing cysts.
Please remember, that to reduce the risk of infection, you should always thoroughly clean the area around the cyst before using any of these natural remedies.
One of the best and easiest ways to drain a sebaceous cyst is to use a warm compress. This can help to remove the cyst without puncturing or irritating the cyst. This is also one of the recommended home treatment methods for cysts that doctors recommend.3
How to use:
To get rid of a sebaceous cyst without surgery by using a warm compress, please do the following:
Gently clean the affected skin area around the cyst with soap.
Apply a wet, warm washcloth to the sebaceous cyst for 20 to 30 minutes. When the washcloth cools, warm it up again by dipping it in hot water.
Repeat 3-4 times a day to help increase blood circulation to the area and speed up the healing process of the cyst.
Continue doing this until the lump comes to a head and starts to drain.
When pus starts coming out of the cyst, apply a clean bandage over the lump to prevent any infection from spreading.
Change the bandage daily.
Doctors from WebMD also advise that you should be careful not to burn your skin and that the warm compress shouldn’t be any hotter than bath water. It may take up to a week for the cyst to come to a head and drain.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil contains natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can help treat a sebaceous cyst. You can also mix some tea tree oil with coconut oil to help soften the skin and assist in eradicating the cyst.
How to use:
For this natural home remedy for getting rid of a cyst in your sebaceous gland, you need some tea tree oil, virgin coconut oil, and a Band-Aid.
Mix 1 tablespoon of coconut oil with 2-3 drops of tea tree oil.
Apply a little of the remedy to the cyst and cover with a band-aid.
Repeat the process 2-3 times a day to help get rid of the sebaceous cyst at home.
If you have been using the warm compress method on your cyst, you can also apply the tea tree oil and coconut oil remedy before putting on the bandage. This helps prevent the spread of infection and helps to quickly reduce redness and swelling around the infected bump.
You can also use the anti-inflammatory properties of witch hazel to help treat a sebaceous cyst at home. Witch hazel is a natural astringent healing agent that helps to increase blood flow to the affected cyst and speeds up the healing process.
Doctors on WebMD say that witch hazel is used to reduce pain, itching, and swelling of the skin, as well as other skin irritations. The astringent properties of witch hazel are due to tannins in witch hazel which also help to fight bacteria.6
How to use:
To help cure a sebaceous cyst naturally using witch hazel, you should do the following:
Soak a cotton ball in pure witch hazel.
Place on the sebaceous cyst for about 10 minutes to let the witch hazel soak into the lump.
Repeat the process 3-4 times a day to help drain the cyst and make it heal quicker.
Witch hazel is especially useful in treating sebaceous cysts that itch and cause minor skin irritations. Witch hazel is also great for getting rid of acne naturally and can help treat many forms of acne, including cystic acne.
Aloe vera is a great natural healer for many skin complaints. You can try applying aloe vera daily to help to reduce a cyst and get rid of the bump under your skin.
Why is aloe vera so great for your skin in general? The Indian Journal of Dermatology reported that aloe vera contains many therapeutic properties for skin health. It contains vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that help to keep your skin healthy. It is also antiseptic in nature and can help fight bacterial skin infections and reduce inflammation. Aloe vera can also help to boost collagen in your skin, thus reducing scarring and helping wounds heal quicker.7
How to use:
To help remove a sebaceous cyst without popping it, use aloe vera daily on the cyst. The natural treatment method for the cyst is as follows:
Apply pure aloe vera gel to the sebaceous cyst and gently massage into the affected skin area.
Allow to dry and leave it on your skin.
Repeat 3-4 times a day to help reduce the size of the cyst and speed up the healing process.
If a sebaceous cyst has come to a head and drained, you should continue applying aloe vera 2-3 times a day until the wound heals. Aloe vera helps prevent any scarring around the site of the former sebaceous cyst.
Apple cider vinegar
You can use apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a useful home remedy for sebaceous cyst treatment at home. Raw apple cider vinegar helps to keep your skin in good health by removing bacteria and it works as a natural astringent. This is also a great natural method for treating itchy skin, including the relieving of the discomfort that some sebaceous cysts cause.
How to use:
To use ACV as a home remedy for treating a sebaceous cyst, please do the following:
Mix equal parts of raw ACV and water (applying undiluted ACV can burn your skin).
Soak a cotton ball in the diluted raw apple cider vinegar and squeeze out any excess liquid.
Place directly on the sebaceous cyst and hold in place with a bandage.
Leave the remedy on for 15-20 minutes to help soften the skin and encourage the healing process.
Repeat the process daily until the pus can drain easily from the cyst.
Diluted apple cider vinegar (ACV) is also one of the best home remedies to get rid of boils. It is also useful for treating blackheads.
Use castor oil to get rid of your skin issue and remove the discomfort caused by a sebaceous cyst. Castor oil will not only help speed up the healing process of a cyst, but it will reduce itching, inflammation, and bacteria that can cause other skin problems.
How to use:
The castor oil method for sebaceous cyst removal uses a combination of the healing properties of castor oil and the warm compress.
Put some castor oil on a clean cotton pad and place on the cyst.
Apply a warm compress to the cyst for 5-10 minutes. For this, you can use a hot water bottle, warm washcloth, or a heat pad.
Repeat 2 times a day for up to a week to help drain the sebaceous cyst to make it disappear completely.
The heat from the warm compress helps to increase blood flow to the cyst to boost the healing power of castor oil.
Sebaceous Cyst – When to See a Doctor
In most cases, sebaceous cysts are just harmless lumps that can be left alone. However, in some cases, a lump under your skin should be examined by a doctor. Many people also want sebaceous cysts and lumps removed for cosmetic reasons.
Doctors from the Mayo Clinic recommend seeing a doctor for a cyst under the following conditions:
The lump starts to grow rapidly.
You notice signs of infection like redness, swelling, heat, and pus around the area of the cyst.
The bump under your skin is in a place that gets constantly irritated.
The sebaceous cyst is unsightly and you want it removed for good.