Date: Nov 2016
Skin cysts are a very common problem. Although they aren’t usually a sign of anything serious, they can be unsightly or become painful if they grow very large. It is therefore important to know what to do if you notice a cyst on your skin.
In order to get rid of skin cysts it is first necessary to understand what type of cyst you have and why it is happening. You might need to see a doctor to confirm the diagnosis or to get the right treatment for your cyst. However, there are also some remedies that you can use at home to treat cysts as long as they are small and painless. Keep reading to find out how to get rid of skin cysts at home or with the help of a dermatologist.
Types of Cyst
Cysts are small swellings on your skin that are caused by blocked hair follicles or your skin cells. They look like skin-coloured, tan, or yellowish bumps filled with thick material. The material inside a cyst is usually a thick paste of excess keratin, but cysts can fill with pus if they become infected. The liquid inside can spill out if the cyst bursts.
Skin cysts are usually small and painless, but they can begin to cause problems if they get too large or become infected. Even if they aren’t causing any serious problems, cysts can still make you feel self-conscious about your skin, so it can be important to seek treatment from a dermatologist.
The doctor will begin by examining the cyst to find out what might be causing it. The dermatologist will make sure that it is just a cyst, rather than some other type of growth. If it is a cyst then the doctor will be able to tell which type of cyst it is.
Categorised to two types:
Epidermoid cysts are slow-growing, benign cysts most commonly found on the face, head, neck, back, or genitals. Usually caused by a build-up of keratin under the skin, they may become swollen, red, and painful if they are infected.
The other type of skin cyst is the sebaceous cyst, which is caused by blocked hair follicles and can be found on the face, neck or torso. Although this is noncancerous, and very slow-growing, it can grow large, causing pressure and pain.
Skin cysts can appear for different reasons and sometimes there isn’t an obvious cause. Cysts can sometimes run in families or be associated with acne. Men are also more likely to develop cysts than women, although cysts around hair follicles can be more common in women. If the skin or hair follicle is damaged then it can also encourage a cyst to form, so some forms of hair removal can sometimes result in cysts where the hairs have become ingrown.
Cysts can sometimes be confused with other types of growths on the skin, including boils and abscesses. If the cyst becomes infected then it can also change in appearance. It might become sore, red or filled with a bad smelling pus.
Treatments for Cyst
So, should you be worried? Most cysts are completely benign and are caused by blockages in your skin’s drainage system. If you’re sure that you have a benign cyst and isn’t bothering you in any way, you can leave it. Some cysts will go away in time.
If you’d like to try and relieve it yourself, you can use a warm compress or flannel and hold it against the cyst for 10 minutes to help reduce the inflammation and encourage it to drain and heal. If unsuccessful, do not attempt to burst or drain the cyst yourself. This can lead to infecting that area and the cyst is then likely to return as it won’t be removed completely.
You have the other options of treating it with medication; antibiotics and cortisone. If the cyst is painful and infected, do not ignore it; an infection left to spread can even cause death. Your dermatologist can prescribe you antibiotics to decrease the swelling and treat the infection. Sometimes that can help in the cyst going on its own.
If not, your dermatologist can inject the cyst with cortisone. An injection directly into the cyst should reduce inflammation and encourage it to start shrinking within 48 hours. This can provide rapid relief for a particularly large or painful cyst.
So, even if may not be causing severe pain it is worth seeking treatment for a cyst. Get yourself to a dermatologist at the Harley street dermatology Clinic to assess your cyst, especially if its diameter is larger than 5 centimetres, if there are signs of infection such as redness, pain or pus, or if you have already had it removed and it has returned.
If you are concerned about your cyst and you would like to make sure it is benign, a punch biopsy can be arranged with one of our dermatologists. This involves cutting out a small amount of tissue from the cyst to be examined for any malignancy. However, cysts which are internal have more cause for concern and should always be checked to make sure they are not cancerous.
Your final option is surgical removal. If the cyst is causing discomfort or making you self-conscious, you can have it cut out. Our dermatologists can drain or remove the cyst for you. The procedure may leave a small scar, but the best excision is the conventional wide excision which will remove the cyst completely. It can leave a longer scar but with this method the cyst is not likely to ever return.
Cysts or cystic acne can sometimes be related to a hereditary disease or disorder. For example, Steatocystoma multiplex is a rare inherited disorder in which multiple sebaceous cysts form, Gardner’s syndrome or basal cell nevus syndrome can cause this too. If you have recurring cysts, our doctors can test and diagnose you, and would be happy to assess and treat you.
Dos and Don’ts
Did you know?
Most moles are not a cause for concern and present a purely cosmetic problem. However, moles can occasionally undergo changes that lead to them becoming cancerous.
Acne is a common condition characterised by blackheads, whiteheads and cysts. It affects the greasy and hair-bearing areas such as the face, chest and back.