What Are the Common Causes of an Eyebrow Cyst?

A.M. Boyle

An eyebrow cyst appears as a raised bump of skin in the area of the eyebrow. It might or might not warrant removal or treatment depending upon the cause and type. Various factors may cause the cyst, such as acne vulgaris or folliculitis. Melanomas can sometimes cause cysts on the surface of the skin. A cyst on the eyebrow might also have the characteristics of a dermoid or sebaceous cyst.

An eyebrow cyst will appear as a raised bump in the brow line.
An eyebrow cyst will appear as a raised bump in the brow line.

When a cyst appears on the eyebrow, it might be asymptomatic, or it could cause pain or sensitivity. It can also vary in size. Often, an eyebrow cyst is nothing to worry about. There are times, though, especially if the cyst is larger in size or causing uncomfortable symptoms, when removal or other treatment might be necessary.

Medical help may be necessary if the eyebrow cyst is painful and continues to grow.
Medical help may be necessary if the eyebrow cyst is painful and continues to grow.

Acne vulgaris is a common cause of eyebrow cysts. This condition typically occurs when dead skin blocks the pores on the surface of the skin. An infection can result, and the affected area develops a raised skin pouch recognized as a cyst. It can be especially prevalent for people with thick eyebrows because dead skin can more easily accumulate at the base of the eyebrow hairs.

Eyebrow plucking can lead to the formation of an eyebrow cyst.
Eyebrow plucking can lead to the formation of an eyebrow cyst.

Another common cause of an eyebrow cyst is folliculitis. Basically, this condition occurs when one or more of the hair follicles on the eyebrows becomes inflamed. This inflammation can result from a blocked follicle or some sort of damage there, such as might be caused by a person plucking his or her eyebrows. The swollen area appears as a small lump in the skin.

An eyebrow cyst may be caused by folliculitis.
An eyebrow cyst may be caused by folliculitis.

Melanoma, one of the most common forms of skin cancer, can also cause a cyst in the area of the eyebrow. With a melanoma, damaged skin cells do not die off but rather continue to reproduce, resulting in a random lump on the surface of the skin that often continues to grow over time. This lump of tissue can occur anywhere on the surface of the skin, including the eyebrow area.

Depending on the nature of an eyebrow cyst, it could also be considered a dermoid or sebaceous cyst. Dermoid cysts are primarily a congenital defect that is present at birth. It is caused when a small hollow in the skin becomes filled with skin tissue. The size can vary, and while a dermoid cyst might not cause any discomfort or other health concerns, an individual might want it removed for aesthetic reasons.

Many times, the oil glands in the skin become blocked, causing a soft pouch of skin to develop. When this happens, it is called a sebaceous, or epidermal, cyst. This condition sometimes occurs in the eyebrow area, where the sebaceous glands are located near the eyebrow hair follicles. Normally, an eyebrow cyst caused by blocked oil glands is filled with a thick, whitish or yellowish fluid.

Frequently, an eyebrow cyst is a nonthreatening condition. Still, a cyst should always be evaluated by a medical professional to determine its cause and whether treatment is necessary. This is especially true if the eyebrow cyst appears red, causes pain, or if it appears to grow over a period of time.

Eyebrow cysts may cause pain and sensitivity.
Eyebrow cysts may cause pain and sensitivity.

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Discussion Comments


I have developed a bump just underneath my eyebrow which has gradually increased in size. I woke up 2 days ago with my eye half its normal size due to swelling. The bump has become very painful and very large.

I went to the GP and the doctor (who barely looked at me), she was not sure what is was but prescribed me Flucloxacillin 500mg which I need to take four times a day for seven days!

The next day I noticed that the swelling had increased. The swelling is now not only on my eyelid but also under my eye, making it look as if I have massive bags. I look awful as well, as if I have been punched in the eye - just missing the blackness and bruising.

It is also slightly painful with my resting face and obviously hurts more when I move my eyebrows.

GPs are absolutely useless. I said that swelling has slightly increased from yesterday and was told to monitor the swelling over the course of the day.

I am now also taking Piriton Allergy Tablets (you can take these with the above antibiotic or so I was told) to see if this reduces the swelling.

If my condition worsens overnight, I think a trip to A&E is needed.


I have a bump under my eyebrow hiding in the hairs and yesterday I just thought it was a pimple but it had no head and it was painful to touch and very sensitive. I went to sleep and woke up today only to notice its gotten a little bigger now my eye is noticeably smaller than the other.


I have a cyst under my eyebrow that I've had since birth. It is getting bigger and I notice I get more pressure in that area when I have head aches. I tried to get it removed, but insurance doesn't cover the procedure.


I had no idea that eyebrow cysts could be cancerous! I am definitely going to get my lump checked out now.


@healthy4life – I always pluck those wayward hairs. I know that the thought of that is a little scary, since it is so tender right now, but getting rid of that hair will make you feel better sooner.

After I pluck the hair at the root, I apply alcohol to prevent infection. I avoid touching the area for a day or so to let the tenderness subside, and usually by the next day, all is well.


What do you do if you have an inflamed eyebrow hair? I have this one that is pointed in the opposite direction from the others, and when I touch it, I feel that the skin below it is very sore.


I've had little bumps under the hair of my eyebrows before. I just thought they were acne. I had never heard of the term “sebaceous cyst.”

If they had a head, I squeezed them. Mayonnaise colored fluid came out.

I did notice that eyebrow cysts were always more painful than regular pimples elsewhere on my face. Just touching the area afterward would send waves of pain through my forehead.

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