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Treating Sebaceous Cysts at Home: Natural Methods of Reducing Size and Easing Discomfort

written by: Lashan Clarke • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 1/28/2010

There are some home treatments that will allow you to relieve the pain of a sebaceous cyst. Be sure to consult with your doctor if you have any questions and get an official diagnosis.

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    A sebaceous cyst is formed in the sebaceous gland. This gland is part of the skin and it surrounds the hair follicle and releases oil to keep the skin moist. If the duct or opening between the sebaceous gland and the outside becomes clogged and inflamed, then a sebaceous cyst can form.

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    Overview of Sebaceous Cysts

    These cysts are most commonly found in areas of the skin such as the back, head, scrotum, arm, and legs. Usually the cyst forms as a result of dirt and clogging around the hair follicle. In some instances they can result from trauma to the skin producing an immune reaction. A congenital condition known as Dermatobia hominis also has sebaceous cysts present in this condition.

    Inside the cyst is a collection of dead white blood cells, fatty material called sebum and keratin, and pus. Therefore, the smell can be quite putrid, especially if it becomes infected. The sebaceous cyst often produces no symptoms and will be grow as a harmless bump below the surface of the skin. In situations where the cyst becomes infected, it can produce pain and redness in the area. There can also be increased swelling. If infection occurs then this increases the risk of the cyst becoming an abscess. Usually there is no medically indicated treatment for sebaceous cysts and they will eventually reduce in size if there is no infection.

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    Natural Home Remedies

    Anyone looking for a more natural way to speed up the healing process can try a home treatment for a sebaceous cyst. The first home remedy is using a warm towel and applying it to the area over the cyst. This will help break down its contents, and over time it may reduce in size. Using warm salt water on the cyst rather than plain warm water can also help reduce swelling.

    A second home remedy is to use different spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. These can be applied as a poultice to the affected area. Just make a poultice using one to a few teaspoons of the spices mixed into lanolin, cocoa butter, or petroleum jelly. The spices have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties that help reduce the size of the cyst.

    Orange peels or orange oil has also been used in the past as a remedy and should be applied after cleaning the area, but not on broken skin. The sebaceous cyst should not be squeezed because this increases the risk of infection.

    Some naturopathic doctors have also prescribed iodine to be applied to the cyst. However, the main goal of treating a sebaceous cyst and using a home treatment for a sebaceous cyst is keeping the area dry. Therefore, various clays such as bentonite clay can also be rubbed on to keep the area clean and used as a desiccant. Note that in some cases, a sebaceous cyst can grow to a large enough size and have to be surgically removed.

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    Web Source: Linda Hanson. June2009. "Epidermal Inclusion Cysts". eMedicine (WebMD). Available:

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