Cysts are a common dermatological concern which can range in severity. A cyst is a pocket of tissue which sits just below the skin. Cysts can contain fluid, air or debris such as dead skin cells. They may develop virtually anywhere on the body.

Types and Causes of Cysts

Patients may face several different types of cysts which have differing causes.

Epidermoid cysts are typically found on the face, head, neck, back or genitals. They are caused by excess keratin found just below the skin. Epidermoid cysts are typically small and may grow slowly.

Cystic acne is a severe type of acne which presents as a bump below the skin’s surface. Cystic acne is typically caused by hormone changes or fluctuations, excess oil, dead skin cells trapped in pores or bacteria.

Ganglion cysts appear on tendons or joints, typically on the hands, wrists, feet or ankles. These cysts are filled with a gel-like fluid.

Pilar cysts are typically found on the scalp. These cysts are caused by protein buildup in the hair follicles.

Sebaceous cysts are most often found on the face, neck or torso. They are noncancerous growths which usually contain fluid.

When to Seek Treatment for Cysts

Treatment for cysts is not always necessary, and many will subside without intervention. However, some cysts may grow over time, persist for long periods or become painful. This is particularly true for cysts which are in sensitive areas. Some patients may also pursue cyst removal for cosmetic reasons, especially when the cyst is located in a prominent area such as the face.

Cyst Removal

Cyst removal will vary depending on the type of cyst that is being removed. Prior to your cyst removal procedure, your provider will review the symptoms you are experiencing and visually evaluate the type of cyst, its size and location. This will inform the best possible removal method.

The first method of removing cysts is to drain fluids using a needle. No anesthesia or numbing is typically required to drain a cyst of this sort. In uncommon cases, drained cysts may refill with fluid. As needed, you may then schedule a follow-up appointment with your provider for further treatment.

In other cases, medications such as corticosteroids may be used to reduce inflammation and remove the cyst. Your provider will likely inject this medication on or near the cyst.

Cysts that cannot be drained may be surgically removed. First, your provider will numb the area using a topical cream or a small injection. The cyst may then be removed through a small incision made with a surgical tool such as a scalpel. Your provider will give you instructions to care for the incision as it heals.

Regardless of the type of cyst that you have, it is best not to attempt to remove it yourself. This can cause a risk of complications such as infection. Seek treatment from a professional instead.

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