Skin Cyst: Home Treatment

Topic Overview

Home treatment for a lump, such as an epidermal (skin) cyst, may relieve symptoms but may not make the cyst go away. An epidermal cyst is a small, round lump in the top layer of skin called the epidermis. It may be filled with a soft, yellow substance called keratin. Epidermal cysts most often appear on the face, ears, back, or chest. But they can appear on almost any part of the body.

When you have an epidermal cyst, the lump or bump under the skin is:

  • Small, round, and smooth.
  • About the size of a pea, or a little smaller or larger.
  • Yellow, white, or skin-colored. It can turn red if it becomes inflamed.
  • Painless. But it can be painful if it's inflamed.

To treat a lump that may be caused by infection under the skin:

  • 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 bleeding.
  • Keep the area clean by washing the lump and surrounding skin well with soap.
  • Apply warm, wet washcloths 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 bath water.
  • 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.

Credits

Current as of: April 1, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
David Messenger, BSc, MD, FRCPC, FCCP - Emergency Medicine, Critical Care Medicine

Symptom Checker

Feeling under the weather?

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.

Symptom Checker

Decision Points

Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.

You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:

Interactive Tools

Get started learning more about your health!

Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.