Home treatment for a lump, such as a
sebaceous (epidermal) cyst, may relieve symptoms but may not make the cyst go
away. A sebaceous cyst is a sac filled with a cheese-like, greasy material
(sebum) caused by plugged ducts at the site of a hair follicle. Sebaceous cysts
most often appear on the scalp, ears, face, back, or scrotum. Hormone
stimulation or injury may cause them to enlarge or become infected.
Signs and symptoms include a bump or lump under the skin that is:
Firm and easily moveable.
white, or flesh-coloured. It can turn bright red if injured or
Painless (but can be painful if injured or
2.5 cm (1 in.) or smaller to
10 cm (4 in.).
To treat a lump that may be caused by infection under the
Do not squeeze, scratch, drain, open (lance), or
puncture the lump. Doing this can irritate or inflame the lump, push any
existing infection deeper into the skin, or cause severe
Keep the area clean by washing the lump and surrounding
skin well with soap.
Apply warm, wet face cloths to
the lump for 20 to 30 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day. If you prefer, you can also
use a hot water bottle or heating pad over a damp towel. The heat and moisture
can soothe the lump, increase blood circulation to the area, and speed healing.
It can also bring a lump caused by infection to a head (but it may take 5 to 7
days). Be careful not to burn your skin. Do not use water that is warmer than
If the lump begins to drain pus, apply a bandage to
keep the draining material from spreading. Change the bandage daily. If a large
amount of pus drains from the lump, or the lump becomes more red or painful,
evaluation by a doctor may be needed.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerDavid Messenger, MD