Sebaceous Cyst : Signs and Causes


Sebaceous cyst is often misunderstood as a serious health issue, probably even cancer. But the fact of the scientific matter is that it’s completely non-cancerous and does not harm your body that severely as you think.

What is a sebaceous cyst?

It is a lump behind the ear produced by oil glands which is composed of dead skin cells and oil. Although the bump finds its common place to grow behind the ear lobe, it can also be produced inside the ear canal. Since oil gets produced faster than it’s released from the gland, some patients can grow recurring cysts.

Have you wondered why it is called sebaceous cyst? Because the oil gland is sebaceous gland.

As opposed to the usual observations, the cyst could also grow on the back, breast, face, head, neck or trunk. Moreover, potential complications are a possibility although they are not cancerous. One more thing to worry about is the rupture, swelling or inflammation of these cysts which could lead to infection. In such cases, consequences could vary from medium to serious complications, such as painful urination or sex in genital sebaceous cyst and skin cancer in rare conditions.

While you may not have a problem living with a sebaceous cyst, chances are it may get rubbed against your shirt or trousers and cause rupture or infection leading to discomfort. As the doctor suggests, he may even ask you to go under the knife to get the cyst removed.

What causes sebaceous cyst?

The formation of sebaceous cyst involves the epidermal cell growth triggered by damaged hair follicle arising from the skin’s oil gland, according to a research. However, you are not supposed to confuse it with epidermoid cyst. The actual issue with the epidermis skin arises when its layer of thin cells moves away from its usual behavior. Instead of falling away, these cells multiply as they shift deeper into the skin, forming the wall of the cyst.

Sometimes, a thick, yellowish discharge will drain from the cyst, which is in fact a protein named keratin.

What are the symptoms of sebaceous cyst?

Even if it does not bother, you may suddenly notice quick growths, ruptures, inflammation or infection coming from nowhere, in which case you should visit your physician.

  • Tenderness, swelling or redness
  • Round lump under the skin, small or large
  • Infection or inflammation
  • Thick, yellow discharge from the lump, with a foul smell
  • Small blackhead at the center of the cyst

You can get rid off your sebaceous cyst/s with surgical or laser technique, provided you’re aware that it may leave a scar on the skin surface, especially when you’re up for it for cosmetic concerns.

What are the home remedies for sebaceous cyst?

While you are not recommended to pop or squeeze even pimples, sebaceous cyst, though non- cancerous and painless, can become infected if you play the mischief. Instead, you can try these powerful natural remedies to heal the cyst at home.

  • Aloe Vera : Helps ease down irritated or inflamed sebaceous cysts.
  • Tea tree oil : Works against reappearance of cysts and their infection with its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial nature.
  • Castor oil : Controls itching and inflammation of the lump.
  • Black blood root drawing salve : Draws toxins onto the skin surface as a 100% natural remedy.
  • Apple cider vinegar : Helps to avoid infection of cysts.
  • Epsom salt : Pulls out infection from cysts when added to warm bathwater.
  • Turmeric powder : Functions as a great healer of sebaceous cysts. Add 1/2 spoon of turmeric to 1 cup of warm milk.
  • Bee pollen : Heals cysts and acne as well as purifies blood for treating skin problems.
  • Anti-fungal cream : Works best against painful and stubborn cysts. Cover the infected area with bandage after applying the cream.


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Dr. Victor Marchione
Dr. Victor Marchione received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973 and continued on to do his Medical Degree at the University of Messina. He has been licensed and practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for more than 20 years.

He is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and the NBC Today Show. As well as being on the Advisory Board for Bel Marra Health, he is also the editor of the Health eTalk newsletter.