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Q.

How to treat a burst sebaceous cyst?

I have a large cyst that burst on Thursday. Today is Monday and it is still draining, has formed a white head, and is still tender. Should I go to a doctor? Also, can a doctor remove the cyst if it isn't currently "full"? (It's flat on my skin now but it's the 3rd occurrence of this cyst).

Thanks!

Related Topics: Cyst, Head, Tenderness, Skin
 
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Nursing
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Sorry you're going through this. Some people are prone to developing sebaceous cysts, and it's not a pleasant process to go through.

If you are not running a fever, you can probably take a wait-and-see attitude toward the situation. (A fever is indicative of an infection, though a localized skin infection may not cause much of a fever.) Drainage is good when it comes to cysts, so you can try applying very warm compresses to the area to help "draw out" the remaining fluid. The white head you're seeing could be a layer of skin cells re-growing to cover the opening. Although you can gently scrub the skin to keep the cyst open, we generally discourage people from doing this because you don't want to inadvertently introduce infection to the area.

Speaking of which, you also can apply antibacterial ointment to the area to reduce the chances of the wound becoming infected.

It's not unusual for a large sebaceous cyst to take several days to completely drain after it has burst on its own. Assuming you're not allergic to any over-the-counter pain remedies, you can take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for the pain.

If you continue to have concerns about the cyst, or if it emits a smelly, greenish pus, or if you start running a fever, then it's time for a trip to the doctor. It's not necessarily an emergency, but I'd recommend you call your primary health care provider if the situation gets worse or doesn't clear up over the next several days.

Wishing you well!

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