Conditions & Treatments

Sebaceous Cysts

Sebaceous cysts are harmless, slow-growing bumps under the skin, often appearing on the scalp, face, ears, back, or groin area.

Sebaceous Cysts

What are sebaceous cysts?

Sebaceous cysts are more accurately called epidermal cysts, although both terms have been used interchangeably. These cysts are typically harmless, slow-growing bumps under the skin, often appearing on the scalp, face, ears, trunk, back, or groin area. They can arise from a ruptured follicle associated with acne, or be seen in a developmental defect of a sebaceous duct, or from trauma to the area. Sometimes they develop without clear explanation. The cysts usually contain keratin, lipid, and other skin particles. Cysts can remain stable or progressively grow. Sometimes they will become inflamed or spontaneously rupture, which poses a risk for infection 

Treatment for sebaceous cysts

Sebaceous cysts may resolve on their own, but tend to recur. Treatment is not required unless it is the patient's preference. These cysts can be injected with medicine to reduce inflammation and prevent the need to drain them. Infected cysts, however, may require incision and drainage by puncturing the top and removing its contents.

Large cysts can reappear after this procedure and may have to be surgically removed. If a cyst becomes swollen, tender, large, or infected, treatment may include antibiotics and then surgical removal.

Treatment Programs


Massachusetts General Hospital understands that a variety of factors influence patients' health care decisions. That's just one reason why we're dedicated to ensuring patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Because a single option might not serve all patients, we offer a wide range of coordinated treatments and related services across the hospital. Patients should consult with their primary care doctor or other qualified health care provider for medical advice and diagnosis information.

Select a treatment program for more information:



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