Alternate Names : Pilar Cyst, Epidermoid Cyst
Sebaceous cysts are sacs just beneath the skin that are filled with an oily,
white, semisolid material called sebum. If the sebum becomes infected, the cyst
will be red and painful. Sebaceous cysts are commonly seen on the scalp, labia,
scrotum, chest, and back, but can be found anywhere on the body.
What is going on in the body?
Sebaceous cysts tend to develop in teenagers because of an interaction among
hormones, sebum, and bacteria. During puberty, the glands in the skin produce
excessive sebum. In skin that is prone to acne, the sebum and dead skin cells clog the hair follicles
and form comedones, or clogged pores. A comedone may break through the pore
wall underneath the skin and release its contents. This causes a pimple or
pustule. If this substance is released deep into the skin it will cause a
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
There is no known cause for sebaceous cysts. Acne, which leads to sebaceous cysts in some individuals, is
caused by four factors:
hormones, particularly the hormone called androgen
increased production of sebum, the oily substance within the hair
changes in the lining of the hair follicles
bacteria and other organisms, which cause infections
and inflammation when they are trapped within the hair follicles
Virtually every adolescent experiences some comedones, or clogged
pores. Generally, acne starts around the age of 10 to 13 years and lasts 5 to 10 years.
Around the age of 14 or 15 years, approximately 40% of adolescents have acne that is serious enough
to require a visit a healthcare provider. Acne happens in both male and female
adolescents, but males are more likely to have a severe form of acne. Some
people develop acne for the first time as an adult.
Certain forms of acne tend to run in families. If an adolescent's parents or
older siblings have severe acne, the adolescent has a higher risk of developing
severe acne. Acne is more common in Caucasian Americans than in African
Americans or people of Asian descent.
Risk factors that increase an individual's risk for development or worsening of
acne include the following:
makeup and skin care products, which can clog the hair follicles
menstrual cycles, which make acne flare-ups more likely in women when their glands are more sensitive to the hormone androgen
airborne grease, such as in a fast food restaurant
routine exposure to products such as motor oil, such as in an automotive
rubbing and friction of the skin by hair, clothing, or sporting