Sebaceous cysts are bumps on the skin that contain liquid or semi-liquid substance collected inside them. They are pretty common and benign. (Benign = non cancerous). Not only on scrotum, they can form on face, neck or in other parts of the body. Most of the time, they are not harmful but they may cause inconvenience. However, you must not ignore these cysts when they form on the scrotum. If you find one or two on your scrotum, you need not freak out but if you notice that their count is increasing, you must see a sexologist immediately.
What causes sebaceous cysts?
Sebaceous glands – These are very tiny pockets under the skin that are connected to the hair follicle. These glands secrete oil and wax like material to lubricate the skin. These glands are found all over the body except in palms and soles of the feet. In short, wherever hair can grow on the body, sebaceous glands can be present.
When the opening of the gland (into the hair follicle) is blocked due to any reason such as a wound or acne or a scratch, these glands fill up with the waxy material and they start growing into bumps. Even if the glands are not formed properly, it can result in accumulation of oils and formations of bumps. Certain genetic conditions like Gardner’s syndrome (a cancerous genetic condition) or basal cell nevus syndrome (another genetic cancerous condition).
Symptoms of sebaceous cysts
Sebaceous cysts can be very small to very large in size. In worst cases, they can grow to the size of a grape on the scrotum. Small ones may cause discomfort but as they grow large, they turn to be painful and very sensitive to touch. If these cysts starts opening up, they eject all the greasy pus like stuff that stinks and emanates foul smell.
Sebaceous cysts if larger than 5 centimeters in size and recurring and if they show signs of infection, drain puss, your doctor may ask you to get some tests done to see if they are cancerous.
Diagnosis of sebaceous cysts
For small cysts, usually the doctor may just stop with physical examination. But, if he/she notices that they are multiplying and growing in size, certain tests may be advised to be done including:
- CT Scan – to figure out any underlying condition or abnormality
- Ultrasound – to see what the cysts contains inside them.
- Biopsy – remove small tissue from the cyst and check if they show signs of cancer.
Treatment of sebaceous cysts
Simple treatment starts with draining of the cysts or by surgically removing them, as long as they are not dangerous. If these cysts are not surgically removed, there are chances of them coming back. Only a complete removal through surgery works best in all cases.
Surgical methods of removing the cysts:
- Wide Excision – The cysts are completely removed but this conventional method leaves scars on the skin.
- Minimal Excision – Results in less scaring but the cysts may return after some time.
- Laser excision – Laser is used to punch holes to the cyst and drain the contents. Once the contents are drained, the cysts dry up and cleaning the leftover portions of the cysts (walls) will be done at a later date, usually after a few weeks.
After the surgery, medication (cream and antibiotics) may be prescribed by your surgeon. These help prevent any possible infection and also decrease the scarring on the skin.
Ignoring the bumps on the scrotum
One or two bumps, red, swollen that go away on their own are ok. You need not pay much attention to those. But, if they are growing in size and number and if they are stinking, you must see a good sexologist near you immediately and start treatment. There are cases when these cysts grew bigger than the size of testicles as they were ignored.