A sebaceous cyst is a lump that is found on the body. It contains a closed sac that contains an oily substance that resembles cheese. This substance is called sebum. Often the contents of the cyst have a foul odor.
The primary symptom of a sebaceous cyst is a bump that can occur on any part of the body. However, they tend to show up on the face and neck; some people develop them in the breast or abdomen area, and they may also show up in the genital area. Sometimes, a cyst becomes infected. When this occurs, symptoms of infection may include redness and tenderness; sometimes the skin over the cyst may become warm or hot. Likewise, a foul, cheesy-looking substance may begin to drain from the bump.
In general, a sebaceous cyst is very easy to diagnose. An experienced medical professional can usually tell what it is by simply looking at it. However, doctors sometimes order biopsies in order to make sure a patient doesn't have another condition that looks similar. Treatment is usually easy as well. In fact, most such cysts don't require any treatment, and when left alone, they disappear by themselves over time.
In some cases, waiting for a sebaceous cyst to resolve itself may not be the best option; for example, sometimes they can become inflamed and uncomfortable. In such a case, a person may wish to have it removed rather than waiting it out. Also, sebaceous cysts may grow very large in some cases and begin to interfere with a person's lifestyle; this may call for removal as well. Large sebaceous cysts can be removed through a surgical procedure that is performed in a doctor's office. Smaller cysts may not require surgery; steroid injections and antibiotic treatments may be used instead.
Though most sebaceous cysts do not develop into anything different, it is possible for them to form abscesses. When this occurs, the patient may experience pain in the area, and removal may be necessary. When a sebaceous cyst is surgically removed, it is important that the doctor is sure that the entire sac is taken out. By doing so, he or she can prevent the symptoms from recurring.