Sebaceous cysts are closed ‘sacks’ that appear underneath the skin and that feel as though they are full of fluid or foam when you touch them. At the same time they will often be accompanied by a foul odour (due to the protein keratin from which they are made), and are most common on the scalp, genitals, upper arm, behind the ears and thighs. As a rule they are most likely to appear on hairy parts of the body as they are often caused by damage to the hair follicle, however they can arise anywhere on the body as a result of trauma to the skin (except for the palms of the hand or the soles of the feet). In some cases a sebaceous cyst may become infected and then open up to become an abscess.
If you suffer from sebaceous cysts these will normally eventually go away on their own and are not a cause for serious concern. However if they persist they can eventually cause hair loss, and as mentioned can get infected. In some cases they will recur repeatedly in the same place. Thus you may wish to get them removed surgically. This will be achieved with a small incision. Here it is important to ensure that the entire sack is removed from under the skin otherwise it can still come back.
However there are also some things you can do yourself to help yourself to recover from sebaceous cysts and to prevent them from being more of a problem than necessary. Here we will look at some things you can do:
Use corticosteroids: An injection of corticosteroids can help to reduce inflammation – not to be used however on infected cysts.
Apply warm pressure: One of the best things you can do to speed up recovery from cysts is to apply a warm and wet cloth to the area. Apply light pressure for around 20 to 30 minutes three or four times daily.
Avoid sun exposure: This can worsen cysts and cause other complications.
Leave it alone: Except when you are applying the warm water, do not scratch, touch, squeeze or attempt to drain or puncture the cyst. Rather just leave it be to run its course, otherwise you might cause scarring, infection (your fingers are covered in bacteria) or other problems.
Keep the area clean: Wash the area regularly to avoid infection. To be extra safe use some cotton wool dipped into a saline solution which will act as a disinfectant.
Use a prophylactic tetracycline or an erythromycin ointment: Apply once to the problem area. At the same time you can use other skin care products but look for oil-free products.