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Potassium iodide could cure sebaceous cysts

All-natural solution rubs cysts away

Q: I’ve had a sebaceous cyst on my neck for about a year. My doctor says it’s not dangerous, but it’s ugly and I’m tired of using scarves and turtlenecks to try to cover it up. Is surgery my only option?

Dr. Wright: Your doctor is correct that sebaceous cysts are not life-threatening and they usually remain rather small. But they can grow and sometimes do become unsightly and embarrassing.

Sebaceous cysts are filled with waxy, oily material called “sebum,” but trying to squeeze it out can result in an infection. The main treatment most doctors and dermatologists recommend is to apply a heating pad to the cyst. Since sebum is waxy and oily, repeated applications of heat for 10 to 15 minutes twice a day can make it more liquid, so the body can re-absorb it. But if your skin and the heating pad aren’t completely clean, you run the same risk you do with squeezing the cyst—the possibility of infection.

The good news is, there’s a simple way to get rid of sebaceous cysts that is just as effective as heat — without the infection risk that comes with squeezing or heating them. Potassium iodide (most often used as a saturated solution of potassium iodide, or SSKI) makes waxes, oils, and some fats much more soluble in water and other body fluids. Applying it twice or three times a day to sebaceous cysts frequently helps them disappear, although the process is gradual. And since potassium iodide is a reliable germ-killer, there’s virtually no chance of infection.

Rubbing in DMSO along with the potassium iodide can speed up the process, although the smell of DMSO bothers some. Give potassium iodide a try, and let’s see if we can help you get cyst-free without going under the knife.