A cyst on the cheek, also known as a sebaceous cyst, is a dome-shaped bump or lump that develops underneath the skin’s surface. A sebaceous cyst is also known as a steatocystoma skin cyst because it is benign (non-cancerous).
It ranges in size from about a ¼ of an inch to 2 inches. A cyst may develop on other areas of the face, or the neck, torso or behind the ears. A cyst on the cheek typically shrinks, heals, and disappear on its own. However, if a cyst grows larger or becomes swollen and infected, you may need to seek medical attention.
A cyst on the cheek can be confused with other bumps or lumps on the skin that are caused by other factors. A steatocystoma skin cyst or true sebaceous cyst may show the following symptoms:
The sebaceous gland is responsible for making the oil or sebum that coats the skin and hair. A sebaceous cyst can form on the cheek mainly after the sebaceous gland becomes blocked or damaged. The blockage or damage may have occurred due to a trauma to the area where the cyst developed. A number of factors may lead to damage or blockage. They include:
Skin trauma or injury: An injury or trauma caused to the skin due to a scratch or acne can cause the formation of a cyst on the cheek. The trauma may result in damaged skin cells that become inflamed and block the oil-producing gland.
Blocked hair follicle: An overgrowth in skin cells can lead to blockage of the hair follicle. When this happens a cyst forms. The cells from the walls of the cyst release a protein called keratin into the body of the cyst, giving it its shape and color.
Defective sebaceous gland: An overgrowth of the protein keratin can occur if the gland is misshaped, abnormal, or defective. Once enough protein accumulates, a lump or cyst forms.
Surgery: Surgical wounds may injure the skin or cause damage to the cells in that area leading to the development of a cyst on the cheek.
Severe acne: Bacteria-infected facial skin can cause severe acne and provide a good opportunity for a cyst to form on the cheek. Blocked pores on the skin of the face can also get infected or inflamed leading to a cyst. A cyst formed in this manner is called a cystic acne.
Gardener’s syndrome and Basal cell nevus syndrome are two genetic conditions that cause abnormal, noncancerous growths or polyps to appear on various areas of the body. They also cause cysts to develop under the skin which can show up on the cheek.
A cyst on the cheek is not life-threatening and tends to heal on its own. Where the cyst persists, your doctor can do a visual examination to rule out cancer or other conditions. Once this is done, the cyst can be treated non-surgically or surgically.
In cases where the cyst is enlarged and infected, it may be necessary to remove it through any of the following surgical techniques:
A complete excision and removal of the cyst is more invasive than other surgical techniques and leaves a scar. But it prevents the reformation of the cyst since the sac and the walls are completely expelled from the tissue beneath the skin.
Simple drainage or minimal incision and excision methods are less invasive, but they may not completely get rid of the cyst. Because they are less effective than full cyst removal, follow-up treatments are usually required. This can make these procedures time-consuming and less desirable by patients.
If the cyst is infected or inflamed, your doctor will treat it with medication and wait until it heals before removing it. Following removal, antibiotic medication or ointment may be prescribed to prevent infection while the skin and tissues heal. Scar creams can be used to improve the appearance of scars if an invasive procedure was used.
Although not scientifically proven to be effective, home remedies have been used to treat a cyst on the cheek. They include apple cider vinegar, castor oil, aloe vera, bee pollen, tea tree oil, Epsom salt, and turmeric.
In rare cases. a sebaceous cyst may be cancerous. The following signs may indicate a cancerous cyst. If any of these signs are present, you should speak with your doctor as soon as possible.
A cyst on the cheek occurs naturally. There are no known ways to prevent this type of cyst. Cystic acne, which occurs due to severe acne, can be prevented to some extent by using acne medication on a regular basis. Birth control pills may also be used to control acne breakouts by suppressing and preventing overproduction of sebum or oil in the sebaceous gland.