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Regarding Skin Cysts and What To Do About Them?

If you happen to feel a lump on or beneath your skin, you may have a cyst. These abnormal growths vary in size and shape, and can be due to multiple causes, but quite commonly they develop from the skin.

It is important to note that most skin cysts are not dangerous. However, it is best you have the lump evaluated by a dermatologist, or other expert, to make sure it looks benign and to receive treatment if necessary – especially if it is painful or symptomatic in some way.  A dermatologist can help determine if the lump is just a benign cyst or if it is something more serious that needs further evaluation or even biopsy.  Let’s talk about what a skin cyst is and what can happen if the cyst is left untreated.

What Is a Cyst?

Cysts, in general, can occur in many places throughout the body, and can be due to numerous causes, but we are focusing on skin cysts here.  The most common type of skin cyst is medically called an ‘epidermoid cyst’, or commonly called a ‘sebaceous cyst’ by most people.  These are usually soft to moderately firm nodules beneath the skin filled with dead skin cells and generally often found on the trunk (especially the back), scalp, face, or other areas.

Most commonly, sebaceous cysts develop due to blocked hair follicles which form outpouchings beneath the skin, creating sacs that are lined inside by active skin cells.  These sacs can remain quiet and stay small, but generally they slowly enlarge over months or years.  Sometimes however, they can enlarge quickly for unknown reasons.

Can a Skin Cyst Be Dangerous?

As discussed, most skin cysts are harmless benign lesions, and often not problematic.  That said, however, some cysts become painful as they enlarge, and others become inflamed or even infected.  Additionally, while it is extremely rare, there is some possibility that a skin cyst could be malignant.  As noted, it is important that if a skin cyst is symptomatic, it should be evaluated by a doctor.

One of the worst things you can do is to ‘mess’ with a cyst by trying yourself to pop or express its contents.  Although sometimes the contents are removed easily, more often they are not, and the pressure placed on the cyst can cause it to rupture beneath the skin.  When this happens, the contents are released into the tissues and the body treats this as a foreign invader, which can cause a huge inflammatory reaction.  In addition, many cysts contain bacteria which can overgrow at times, causing a cyst to become ‘infected’.  Both inflamed and infected cysts behave similarly, and present as red, swollen, painful nodules.  If an infected cyst is left untreated, it can spread infection to the surrounding areas causing cellulitis and even infect the bloodstream in the worst cases.

Treating Skin Cysts

The treatment for a cyst will depend on the type of cyst, location, size, presence of symptoms, current condition (?inflamed or infected), and other factors.  For most epidermoid cysts not causing any problems, it is ok to leave it alone, as these are generally benign lesions.  However, if a cyst is enlarging rapidly, painful, swollen, or inflamed or infected, treatment is warranted and recommended.  If a cyst is inflamed or infected, first-line treatment involves oral antibiotics and sometimes steroid injections to calm it down.  Additionally, it may need to be opened and drained, allowing the contents to be released, so that the excess pressure and any infection can be removed.  Once the cyst has calmed down, it can then be re-assessed for possible removal.  The only true treatment for sebaceous cysts is to remove it completely, including the skin ‘sac’ lining that created it – otherwise there is a high likelihood it will return.  In most cases, this requires a minor surgical procedure that can be done in clinic under local anesthesia.  Your doctor can explain the situation and all of your options in detail during your visit.

Cyst Diagnosis and Treatment in Lake Worth, Texas

At Lakeview Dermatology in Lake Worth TX, our team strives to deliver quality, state-of-the-art medical and surgical care to all our patients. We provide a wide range of services to our patients with skin problems such as skin cancer, eczema, acne, psoriasis, and skin cysts, not to mention a number of cosmetic services.

From simple to complex skin issues, we have the training and experience necessary to treat you. Our goal is to care for the health of your skin and keep it in great condition – because healthy skin contributes to a healthy body.

To schedule an appointment with our caring dermatologist at Lakeview Dermatology, you may reach us by calling us at (817) 752-5256 or request an appointment online. Our friendly team looks forward to serving you.

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