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Cysts are benign sacs that appear within or just below the skin. Cysts can appear anywhere on the body. While they are unsightly and sometimes painful, cysts are not life-threatening.

What are the Different Types of Cysts?

There are several types of cysts, and each type of cyst has a different cause and symptoms. Cysts usually develop when a hair follicle becomes blocked.

Epidermoid (Sebaceous) Cysts

Also known as sebaceous cysts, epidermoid cysts are slow-growing bumps that usually appear on the scalp, face, ears, trunk, back, or groin area. These cysts can develop when something damages or blocks the gland or its duct such as a scratch, a surgical wound, or a skin condition like acne. The cysts are filled with a foul-smelling material, which may occasionally drain. A ruptured epidermoid cyst may become red, inflamed, swollen, and painful.

Pilar Cysts

Pilar cysts usually develop as the result of damage to the hair follicle. More than 90 percent of pilar cysts appear on the scalp, causing pain and discomfort when the person brushes, combs, or washes their hair.

Can a Cyst Be Cancerous?

Most cysts are benign, or non-cancerous, but some may be malignant (cancerous). A cyst may be malignant if it contains solid matter. A benign cyst is typically filled with fluid and air. To make a diagnosis, the doctor may order a CT scan or perform a biopsy, which is a procedure in which the doctor takes a tissue sample and sends it to a laboratory.

Dermatologists can treat cancerous cysts with Mohs micrographic surgery, a precise surgical technique in which the skin doctor removes and examines thin layers of cancer-containing skin until only cancer-free tissue remains.

Cyst Removal and Treatment Options

There are a number of cyst treatment options available. The type of cyst removal procedure a dermatologist recommends depends largely on the type of cyst and its location. Cysts may remain stable in size or enlarge over time, but they usually do not resolve completely on their own.  If they are not painful, itchy, rapidly growing, or unsightly, they are benign and do not need to be removed.  If the cyst is bothersome or ruptures it will need to be removed usually by a dermatologist.

Removing the cyst at home involves applying a warm compress for up to 15 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day until the cyst drains can help treat cysts. Patients should never try to “pop” a cyst or use pressure to drain it. Improper cyst removal can cause an infection, pain, and scarring.

Dermatologist cyst removal includes lancing the cyst with a sharp scalpel to create a hole in the cyst, and then draining it by applying pressure. The dermatologist may recommend excising the cyst, which involves making incision around the cyst then removing the cyst wall and contents. The dermatologist then stitches the incision.

For more information on cysts and removing a cyst, consult with a dermatologist who can assess, diagnose, and treat cysts. While cysts are usually harmless, dermatologist cyst removal can provide better, long-lasting results. Contact Center for Dermatology today to learn more about our cyst treatment options.


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