A cyst is a small, slow-growing, noncancerous bump beneath the skin. It is a sac-like structure, usually filled with liquid, within the body’s tissue. Cysts are fairly common and can appear anywhere under the skin. Cysts usually form due to infections, inherent diseases, chronic inflammation or blockages in ducts.
What are the symptoms and signs of a cyst?
Cysts typically do not cause any sort of pain. They are smooth to the touch and generally only cause a bump at the surface. Some cysts are deep beneath the surface and cannot be felt. There are many different typed of cysts, which can cause them to be red and vary in size.
What treatments are available?
Most cysts need medical attention for them to go away. Cysts can be drained or injected with cortisone medication, causing them to shrink but many cysts may need to be surgically removed to avoid reappearance. Whether a cyst needs treatment depends on the type of cyst, location of the cyst, potential pain, and whether the cyst is infected.
If you have questions concerning Cysts, call our office and schedule an appointment to meet with Dr. Myers. At your visit, Dr. Myers will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan for your condition.
Types of Cysts
A cutaneous cyst is a lesion that contains fluid or semi-fluid material. Because of this, they can fluctuate in size. Cysts are harmless, sac-like growths in the deeper layers of the skin. They form from the lining of a hair follicle that gets blocked. It is not known why cysts appear, nor why some persons are more prone to them.
- Acne comedones
closed comedones (whiteheads) and open comedones (blackheads)
- Acne cysts
large, inflamed acne lumps
- Epidermal inclusion cysts
soft, cheese-like contents
- Digital myxoid cysts
clear, located at the base of a nail
(tiny surface white balls often found around the eyelids, on cheeks, or scalp). Milia may be squeezed out AFTER placing a small slit in the top with a pin
- Pilar cysts
firm, white content that is similar to epidermal inclusion cysts
clear, small, jelly-like cyst on the eyelid
Benign cysts may sometimes be confused with skin cancers, especially basal cell carcinoma. The epidermal cyst sac is filled with a soft, whitish brown material that sometimes oozes out onto the skin’s surface. This material, which is keratinous debris (dead skin cells), smells like rotten cheese.
Cysts can get inflamed if the contents of the cyst rupture into the surrounding skin. This makes them red and painful, and they may discharge a yellow pus. Occasionally, bacteria enter the cyst and cause an infection which resembles a boil. When this happens, antibiotics such as Keflex or Dicloxacillin can be taken to relieve pressure and pain. At times, a minor surgery will be performed.
Small cysts (e.g. less than 5 mm) don’t usually need treatment, but can be readily removed by a minor surgical procedure. Larger ones can be removed because they are unsightly but more so if they have been inflamed. Cysts are treated by making a small surgical opening into the skin and removing the sac. This is done under local anesthetic and may require stitches, removed a few days later. Very rarely, the cyst recurs and needs further treatment.