Sebaceous cysts are pockets of keratin that develop under the skin in the hair follicle. Usually found in the armpit or groin or behind the ear, these cysts can form anywhere on the body, probably due to unshed skin cells and oil. They are often seen in conjunction with acne rosacea. A similar, but more severe, condition is called hidradenitis suppurativa. In this, the cysts may occur in groups and can be debilitating.
Allopathic Methods of Treatment
The medical community has a range of treatment for sebaceous cysts. While the cyst is small, your physician may prescribe an antibiotic ointment or advise you to wait and see if it resolves on its own. If the cyst does not resolve, it may grow large enough to need removal. Your doctor makes an incision, drains the keratin, and removes the sac that lines the cyst to prevent recurrence.
Clay and Colloidal Silver
Sometimes surgery is not a desirable option, whether because of the recovery time or the cost. Some people have had good results with bentonite clay used internally and externally. Clay is often used for treatment of skin conditions like acne and eczema and may help to "dry up" the cyst so it resolves on its own. Bentonite clay has been shown to kill bacteria like staphylococcus, which can cause the follicles to be infected in the first place (Howard Lind, Lind Laboratories, Brookline, MA, 1961).
Colloidal silver is 99 percent pure silver that has been processed with an electric current and mixed with purified water. It is thought to help improve health in a number of ways, including detoxifying the system and healing wounds like sebaceous cysts. According to users of this remedy, it works quickly and helps prevent future outbreaks.
Epsom salts are a trusted remedy for drawing out infections of the skin. For sebaceous cysts, or boils/carbuncles, bathe daily in very warm water with Epsom salts mixed according to package directions.
Turmeric is another suggested treatment. This pungent herb, commonly used in Indian cuisine, has also been used for centuries to treat and prevent acne and other disruptions of the skin. Take it internally, ½ teaspoon of the powder mixed with ½ cup of milk twice daily for 10 days.
It can be alarming to find a lump under your skin. There are a couple of ways to check whether it is a just a sebaceous cyst or something more serious. Sebaceous cysts are not painful. They also move easily under the skin. If the lump oozes or is painful, or if they occur in groups and develop "sinuses," or connecting tunnels, it is likely to be a case of hidradenitis suppurativa. If the cyst is hard and does not move easily, you should have a biopsy done in case it is a tumor.
Sebaceous cysts are not a serious health concern. Unless they become a cosmetic annoyance or occur in a place where clothing is going to irritate you, treatment may not be necessary. Don't try to drain the cysts yourself. If the sac that encases the cyst is not removed, it will likely return unless you use one of the remedies above to keep the keratin from filling it up again.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Martin Kingsley
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