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Cysts

Cysts are closed capsules which can appear on any part of the body. Infected cysts are not only unsightly but also painful to the touch.

Cysts contain fluid, pus, or gas, and are often caused by an infection or clogged pores.

I have a small lump beneath my skin...is it a cyst?

Identifying Common Types of Cysts

Epidermoid Cyst

These small, benign cysts originate in the epidermis and are commonly found on the face, neck, head, or back. They are typically skin-colored, though they may become red and painful if they are infected.

Sebaceous Cyst

These cysts form out of the sebaceous glands and are most often found on the face, neck, or torso. Less common than other types, sebaceous cysts are larger and often cause pain or pressure.

Ganglion Cyst

These round, fluid-filled bumps typically appear along the tendons or joints in the hands, ankles, and wrists. They may develop as a result of trauma or injury.

Cystic Acne

Cystic acne develops deep beneath the skin when pores become blocked by bacteria, oil, and debris. It most commonly occurs in people with oily skin.

Why do I have cysts?

People of Any Age and Background Can Develop Cysts

There are hundreds of types of cysts, which stem from a variety of sources.

  • You may be more likely to develop a ganglion cyst if you are female and between the ages of 20 and 40 or have a joint or tendon injury.
  • You are more susceptible to epidermoid cysts if you are past puberty or have certain genetic disorders.
  • Genetic conditions such as Gardner's syndrome or basal cell nevus syndrome can put you at a greater risk of developing sebaceous cysts.

Let's dive deeper into the underlying causes...

Common Culprits Include Blockages, Certain Syndromes, & Oily Skin

Obstruction

Generally speaking, anything that obstructs the flow of fluid can result in a cyst. If the sebaceous gland or its duct is damaged or blocked, for example, you may develop a cyst.

Chronic Inflammatory Disease

Autoinflammatory diseases such as PAPA syndrome can cause severe cystic acne. Cysts typically develop in puberty and can persist into adulthood.

Hormones

Hormonal changes can increase the production of sebum, which is an oily substance secreted at the base of hair follicles. More sebum means greasier skin, which can cause or aggravate cystic acne.

While most cysts cannot be prevented...

"Cysts are usually harmless. Small cysts that aren't causing any problems can be left alone."

National Health Service UK

A Balanced Lifestyle Can Reduce Inflammation

Stay Stress-Free

Stress can make cystic acne worse. By reducing stress through activities like meditation and exercise, you can decrease your risk of cysts.

Maintain a Nutritious Diet

Diet has a substantial effect on cystic acne. Carbohydrate-rich foods can aggravate acne, whereas dark green vegetables and berries have an anti-inflammatory effect.

If I have a cyst, do I need to see the doctor?

If You Have Pain, Swelling, or Tenderness the Answer Is Yes

Many times, a cyst will go away on its own. However, if your cyst becomes painful or red, this could be a sign of infection.

Only your doctor can determine whether you need treatment. They will consider the type and location of the cyst, check to see if it is infected, and evaluate symptoms like discomfort.

Doctor examining a cyst on patient's back

The doctor may palpate the cyst and if the lump is abnormal, biopsy the area to confirm there is no malignant tissue.

What does treatment involve?

You Have Three Primary Treatment Options

Home Remedies

If your cyst is not painful, red, or tender, home remedies can speed up the healing process. You can apply warm compresses to the cyst, which will help it drain. Never try to pop a cyst on your own, as this may cause or worsen an infection.

Draining the Cyst

If you are looking for a faster solution, your doctor can drain the cyst using a needle. They can also inject the cyst with a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation.

Surgical Removal

If the cyst is large or continues to refill with fluid, you may need surgery to remove it. Your doctor may recommend surgery if draining hasn't worked or if you have an internal cyst that is hard to reach.

So, what should I do now if I have a cyst?

Speak with a Doctor to Learn More

Sometimes, cysts go away on their own. However, if you have been struggling with an unsightly cyst or have begun to experience localized pain and tenderness, it is important to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Together, you can determine the most appropriate treatment for your needs.

Want More Information?

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