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What Causes Cysts?

There are hundreds of different types of cysts that can appear in the human body. A cyst is a closed pocket that contains fluid or other semi-solid substances.

Cysts are typically benign, and they can be mistaken for a tumor or abscess by those who are not experienced in evaluating them. Most cysts form as a result of some type of blockage at the site of where a gland appears on the body. This can be a salivary gland or even a hair follicle, and the cyst can vary in size from very tiny to the size of a large ball.

They are most noticeable when they form under the skin and create a protrusion or feel like a lump. The most common types of noticeable cysts are epidermoid cysts or what people call ‘sebaceous cysts’, which form under the skin and can appear anywhere on the body, but most commonly seen on the trunk or scalp.

Causes of Cysts

Cysts are most commonly caused by blockage in a duct, which can be due to trauma, infection, or even an inherited tendency.  The type of cyst depends on where it forms – some cysts can be internal (such as in a breast, the ovaries, or the kidneys) while others are external and form in visible locations on the body.

Certain risk factors increase the chances of a cyst forming, including:

Activities like gymnastics, which place large amounts of stress on the wrist, can cause ganglion cysts to form. Ganglion cysts form on a joint – typically on the wrist or ankle – and form a large, visible lump which is filled with a thick, viscous liquid.

Common Types of Cysts

The most common type of cyst is an epidermoid cyst. This forms in the top layer of the skin when trauma occurs near a hair follicle and the top layer of skin grows inward rather than sloughing off as it should.  The material in these cysts is ‘cheesy’ and consists of dead skin cells that would otherwise normally be sloughed off.  When bacteria break down these cells, a strong odor develops.  Pilar cysts are similar in origin to epidermoid cysts, however these are located exclusively on the scalp.

Sebaceous cysts are also similar to the above two cysts, however their point of origin is deeper  down the hair follicle. A sebaceous cyst is filled with an oily substance known as sebum, which is excreted by the sebaceous glands.

Ganglion cysts, commonly around joints (especially the hands and feet) are also known as “Bible bumps,” referring to the old home-remedy of whacking the cyst with a heavy book like the Bible in an attempt to break up the sac of tissue. Other types are Baker’s cysts (behind the knee), pilonidal cysts (at the buttocks near the tailbone), epididymal cysts (on the testes), and many other types that can form on the face, scalp, back, face, and arm.

Dermatologists in Fort Worth

If you have a cyst or if you’re just looking for an experienced dermatologist here in the Fort Worth area, contact Lakeview Dermatology for a full examination and for any necessary treatment.

Call our practice today at (817) 752-5256 or request an appointment online, and stop having to plan your wardrobe to hide your problematic skin condition.

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