What are They and What can I Do About Them?

What is a cyst?

How do you tell if a bump is a cyst?

A cyst is a sac-like pocket of tissue that contains keratin or other substances. It can form in any part of the body and can vary in size. Cysts can develop from a hair follicle, a gland, or from under the skin.  They are normal and don’t need to be removed BUT they may need treatment if they become inflamed or cause discomfort.

Is it a cyst or a pimple?

There are various types of cysts we see in Dermatology, such as:  pilar cysts, epidermoid or epidermal inclusion cysts (sometimes called sebaceous cysts), myxoid cysts, or rarely dermoid or pilonidal or cysts. 

What are the symptoms and causes of cysts?

What are common symptoms of cysts

Common symptoms of cysts include a noticeable lump under the skin, redness, tenderness, swelling, and pain in the affected area. Some cysts may also result in the discharge of pus or other fluids.

What is the main cause of a cyst?

Cysts may form due to a variety of reasons but primarily due to blockage of ducts or pores.  Cysts form when the substance (such as keratin) that normally is secreted out of the pore, gets backed up and enlarges over time.  

Can cysts become cancerous?

Essentially all cysts are normal (benign) and do not develop into cancer. However, there are rare specific types of cysts, such as dermoid cysts, that have the potential to become cancerous. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and management if there are concerns about the nature of the cyst.

What is the best treatment for cysts?

Options for cyst treatment

Cyst treatment options initially focus on relieving symptoms and preventing infection. Home remedies such as warm compresses and proper hygiene can help reduce inflammation and promote drainage. Medical options include incision and drainage or removal of cyst and its sack by a dermatology provider.

Surgical removal of cysts

In some cases, surgical removal of the cyst may be necessary, especially if the cyst is causing pain, grows rapidly, becomes infected, or recurs. The procedure involves the complete removal of the cyst and lining to prevent recurrence.

Home remedies for cysts

If the cyst is asymptomatic and not enlarging, it often does not need to be removed.  Home remedies like applying tea tree oil, aloe vera, or apple cider vinegar may help reduce inflammation and prevent infection. However most of the time, these are not sufficient to fully remove the cyst.  

How do I stop getting cysts?

The only way to stop getting cysts would be to stop aging.  They come with time and some people are just genetically predisposed over others. If you tend to get cysts a lot, consult with a dermatology provider to see what an appropriate course of action is.

When should a cyst be surgically removed?

Indications for cyst removal

A cyst may need to be surgically removed if it causes significant discomfort, interferes with normal bodily functions, becomes infected, or grows rapidly. The decision for surgical intervention is based on the specific characteristics and impact of the cyst on the individual’s health and well-being.

Specific considerations for common types of cysts, such as sebaceous and epidermoid

Epidermoid (ie epidermal inclusion) cysts and pilar cysts are among the most common types of skin cysts that we see.  They develop due to blockage of hair follicles or pores. Understanding the distinct characteristics and potential complications associated with these cysts is important for effective management and prevention of recurrence.


Most cysts are not cause for concern.  If it starts to interfere with day-to-day activities, it’s always smart to call your dermatologist.


If you’re thinking about next steps, get in touch to schedule a consultation.