A sebaceous cyst forms below the surface of the patient’s skin, filling with sebum (hence the name). Sebum is a type of fatty material which is produced by the microscopic sebaceous glands in the skin. Generally, it lubricates the hair and skin of the patient, and is found in the largest amounts on an individual’s face and scalp. However, when a sebaceous cyst is caused, sebum is actually found inside of it.
Swollen hair follicles are one potential reason for the condition. The hair follicle is a part of the skin which grows the hair. It is also attached to the sebaceous gland. Aside from such a cyst, there may also be other symptoms in the occurrence of swollen hair follicles (as with other possible causes mentioned in this article).
Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome (NBCCS) may also lead to a sebaceous cyst. NBCCS is an inherited condition and involves multiple body system defects (skin, endocrine system, nervous system, and others). Other names the condition goes by include: Gorlin syndrome (sometimes Gorlin-Goltz syndrome), basal cell nevus syndrome, and multiple basal cell carcinoma syndrome.
For symptoms, other characteristics of the cyst not yet mentioned may include: smooth feel and round shape. A sebaceous cyst may appear on nearly any location of the body, with the palms of the hands and soles of the feet being some exceptions. Typically, they appear in places on the body with more hair.
A sebaceous cyst may become infected in some instances. In such a case, the appearance may vary beyond what a non-infected one would look like. Additionally, non-standard treatment may also be useful should the cyst be infected. Whether infected or not, a patient should not attempt to break or “pop” the cyst, as it may lead to infection of the surrounding skin tissue.