A “cyst” is a closed or “sac-like” structure that is full of semi-solid material, gases or liquid. Sebaceous cysts occur due to the buildup of sebum, an oily substance that keeps your skin and hair moisturized. Most sebaceous cysts are found on the face, the neck, the back, and rarely, in the genital area. Though they grow slowly and are usually painless, they can be uncomfortable and show up in embarrassing spots. You can get the cyst medically removed by a doctor or use home treatments to encourage the cyst to heal and disappear.
1 Note if the cyst has become inflamed and irritated. Most sebaceous cysts are harmless and do not require treatment. But if the cyst becomes irritated or inflamed, you may consider going to your doctor so they can remove it for you safely.
- Check if there is a tiny blackhead in the center of the cyst. The cyst may also be red, inflamed, and tender.
- You should also note a thick yellow fluid that comes out of the cyst when you press on it. The fluid may have a foul smell.
Let your doctor examine the cyst. If you think the sebaceous cyst is infected, you should allow your doctor to examine it and avoid touching it or draining it on your own at home.
- Trying to drain the cyst at home can increase your risk of having the cyst appear again, as you will not be able to remove the sac completely. Draining the sac on your own can also increase your risk of infection and scarring in the area around the cyst.
Allow your doctor to drain the cyst. This is a fairly easy procedure and can be done in your doctor’s office. They will first apply a local anesthetic on the cyst so you do not feel the procedure.
- Then, she will make a small incision in the cyst and drain the contents by “expressing” the fluid. “Expressing” means she will apply a small amount of pressure on the cyst to push the fluid out. The fluid in the cyst may appear yellow, cheesy looking, and have an unpleasant smell.
- Your doctor may also remove the cyst wall to prevent the cyst from appearing again. This is considered minor surgery and your doctor may need to give the area sutures once the cyst wall has been removed, depending on how big the cyst is.
- Removing the cyst is generally done after the acute infection has subsided, to prevent recurrence of an infected cyst.
Make sure the area around the removed cyst does not get infected. Your doctor should give you instructions on how to treat the area around the removed cyst so it does not get infected and stays clean. They should put a bandage on the removed cyst so it can heal and instruct you to apply over-the-counter ointment to keep the area clean.
1Put essential oils on the cyst. Certain essential oils have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which can reduce the swelling of the cyst and lower the risk of infection, though this has not yet been medically proven.
- You can use essential oils directly on the cyst or mixed with castor oil to dilute the essential oil. If you decide to use castor oil, use three parts essential oil to seven parts castor oil. Tea tree oil, turmeric oil, garlic oil, and frankincense oil can all help to reduce the size of the cyst.
- Apply a small amount of the essential oils to the cyst four times a day with a cotton ball or a Q-tip. Cover the cyst with a small bandage once you have applied the oil. If the cyst does not reduce in size within one to two weeks or is still inflamed and painful, contact your doctor.
- After applying the aloe vera, rinse the area with warm water. Do this three to four times a day. You can also apply castor oil in the same manner, repeating the application three to four times a day.
Co-authored by Jonas DeMuro, MD
Updated: March 29, 2019
This video may contain dermatologic surgical and/or procedural content. The content seen in this video is provided only for medical education purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.