Sebaceous Cysts

Sebaceous cysts are lumps that can be found protruding on the surface of the skin that is often times filled with oil called sebum or keratin, a protein that resembles the consistency and colour of cheese. The probability of men getting sebaceous cysts is twice higher than that of women’s. Sebaceous cysts are mostly found on the upper areas of the body. However, there are cases where they have occurred in the genital areas as well. In some cases, people do not even realise that they already have sebaceous cysts because they are painless. There are two types of sebaceous cysts, the epidermoid cysts and the pilar cysts. Both cysts look very similar to each other and can only be differentiated from each under after careful inspection of the cysts’ sac under a microscope.

What causes sebaceous cysts?

Sebaceous cysts are caused by inflamed hair follicles. In certain cases, trauma to skin can also lead to the growth of sebaceous cysts. The cells that are normally meant to stay and multiply on the surface of the skin go further down and deeper and multiply there as well. The result is that they form a sac that is filled with keratin and sebum. The most common symptoms of sebaceous cysts are soreness and redness on the affected are, it can also be red, tender and warm to the touch and you can see a white cheese-like material that is encased in the lump.

Are sebaceous cysts harmful?

Both epidermoid and pilar cysts aren’t harmful in most cases. They are benign and do not spread across different parts of the body. They aren’t contagious either so it cannot be transmitted from person to person. However, if you observe anything that is rather unusual that is happening to your sebaceous cysts, you should not hesitate to speak to your doctor about it. In some very rare cases, they can evolve and develop into skin cancer. There is also a possibility of your sebaceous cysts getting infected, so you should have to look-out for that. In some instances, people get their sebaceous cysts removed for cosmetic reasons.

Types of Sebaceous Cysts

Epidermoid cysts are the rarer type of sebaceous cysts.

They are usually composed of fat and proteins known as keratin. Most of the time, epidermoid cysts appear on a person’s upper body.

Epidermoid cysts can affect people of all sex and age, but they are more prevalent with younger and middle aged people.

Pilar cysts develop in cells that are similar to that of our hair follicles.

Pilar cysts can affect anyone. However, they are more prevalent in women who are in their 40’s.

Pilar cysts are commonly found on the scalp and it is not unusual for several of them to appear at the same time. It is believed that pilar cysts are hereditary.