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    Sebaceous cyst

    Epidermal cyst; Keratin cyst; Epidermoid cyst; Epidermal inclusion cyst   

    A sebaceous cyst is a closed sac under the skin filled with a cheese-like or oily material.

    Causes

    Sebaceous cysts most often arise from swollen hair follicles. Skin trauma can alsocause a cyst to form. A sac of cells is created into which a protein called keratin is secreted.

    Symptoms

    The main symptom is usually a small, non-painful lump beneath the skin. The lump is usually found on the face, neck and trunk. It usually grows slowly and is not painful.

    If the lump becomes infected or inflamed, other symptoms may include:

    • Skin redness
    • Tender or sore skin
    • Warm skin in the affected area
    • Grayish-white, cheesy, foul-smelling material that drains from the cyst

    Exams and Tests

    In most cases, your doctor can make a diagnosisby examining your skin. Sometimes, a biopsy may be needed to rule out other conditions.

    Treatment

    Sebaceous cysts are not dangerous and can usually be ignored. Placing a warm moist cloth (compress) over the area may help the cyst drain and heal.

    If you have a small inflamed cyst, your doctor may inject it with a steroid medicine that reduces swelling.

    If the cyst becomes swollen, tender, or large, your doctor may drain it or perform surgery to remove it.

    Possible Complications

    Cysts may become infected and form painful abscesses.

    Cysts may return, evenafter they are surgically removed.

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you notice any new growths on your body. Although cysts are not dangerous, your doctor should examine you for signs of skin cancer.

    References

    Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Mosby; 2009:chap 20.

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    • Hair follicle anatomy

      illustration

      • Hair follicle anatomy

        illustration

      Tests for Sebaceous cyst

        Review Date: 5/15/2013

        Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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        St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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