One day you notice a new lump on your skin. This provides instant anxiety. When a cyst shows up, it’s an unwelcome surprise. Fortunately, most cysts are common and harmless. Our board-certified dermatologists at Rendon Center can treat cysts or remove them if necessary.
What Is a Cyst?
A cyst is a closed sac under the skin filled with liquid and/or soft or hard material. Cysts can form anywhere on the body, and there are just about as many types of cysts as there are letters in the alphabet. These range from acne cysts to chalazion cysts on the eyelids, from ganglion cysts on the wrists to vocal cord cysts.
What’s the Difference Between a Cyst and a Tumor?
- A cyst is a sac of tissue filled with another substance, such as air or fluid. Tumors are solid masses of tissue.
- Cysts can form anywhere on the body, including on the bones.
- Cysts can feel tender to the touch, and they can be moved easily.
- Tumors can also grow just about anywhere on the body. They tend to grow quickly and are typically firm to the touch.
What Causes Cysts to Form?
Cysts can show up anywhere on your body. Here are some common causes of cysts:
- Clogged glands, such as the sebaceous glands
- Result from an infection
- Genetic conditions
- A defect in a cell
- Blockages of ducts in the body that cause fluids to build up
- Injury that breaks a vessel
- Chronic inflammatory conditions
Are All Cysts the Same?
Most cysts are benign and develop due to blockages in the body’s natural drainage systems. The most common cysts include dermatofibromas and epidermoid cysts, also referred to as sebaceous cysts.
- Dermatofibromas are firm bumps that form in the deep layers of the skin. They are harmless and tend to occur in response to an injury. You’ll likely find these cysts on the arms and legs. They are usually pink or dull red and look like a mole. They rarely need treatment unless they’re painful.
- Epidermoid cysts are growths that form in deeper layers of the skin. They are small, closed sacs containing fluid or solid material composed of dead skin cells.
When Should a Cyst Be Removed?
Cysts that are cancerous obviously need to be removed. Large cysts that are causing symptoms or interfering with part of the body (such as chalazion cysts on the eyelids) may also need removal, even if they are benign.
How Are Cysts Removed?
When we need to treat a cyst, there are a few different methods your Rendon Center dermatologist may use.
- A corticosteroid may be injected directly into the cyst. This steroid will help reduce any swelling if the cyst is tender, swollen, or growing.
- We may aspirate (drain) the cyst by inserting a needle or a catheter into the cavity. If the cyst is deeper in the skin, we may use x-ray or ultrasound guidance to accurately guide needle placement.
- Surgical removal can be used to remove the discharge and the sac that make up the walls of the cyst. This is a better way to prevent recurrence of the cyst, which can happen with aspiration.
- Laser removal can be used. Laser energy first creates a small hole to drain the cyst. Then the wall of the cyst is removed with a minimal excision about one month later.
What Is Recovery Like after Cyst Removal?
If there is any recovery involved, this is a direct relationship to the method used and probably the size of the cyst. Aspiration usually doesn’t require any recovery beyond keeping the site clean if on the surface. If the cyst was surgically removed, these are typically only minimal incisions, and they can usually be closed with just a single suture or even only a bandage.