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Cyst 101 : Identifying and Treating Common Cysts

The appearance of a cyst is worrying and troublesome. Luckily, many cysts are common, harmless, and can simply be treated if necessary. The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute can help with prevention options and treatments for cysts that recur or need to be removed.

What is a Cyst?

A cyst is a closed sac under the skin filled with liquid and/or soft or hard material. Cysts can be found anywhere on the body. Although they are often slow-growing, painless, and movable lumps beneath the skin, they can occasionally become inflamed and tender.


Identifying Cysts

A variety of types of cysts exist, and most are harmless and painless. 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 are likely to see them appear on the arms and legs.

When determining whether your cyst is a dermatofibromas, look for a pink or dull redness that resembles a mole. These cysts are small but can grow as large as one inch in diameter. If pinched (which is not recommended) a dimple is often formed. These lesions are benign and treatment is rarely needed unless they are painful.

Epidermoid cysts are growths that form in deeper layers of your skin. They are small, closed sacs containing fluid or solid material composed of dead skin cells. These can appear in different sizes and on various parts of the body. If ruptured, they can become inflamed and discharge pus.


Treating Cysts

At-home remedies and removal by a doctor are the most common options for removing unwanted or painful cysts. At-home cyst treatment remedies include using a warm, moist cloth to help drain and heal the cyst. Other treatments include keeping the cyst clean, washing it with warm soap and water, and wrapping it in a bandage if it begins to drain.

If cyst removal is needed or wanted, treatment may include injecting a steroid medication directly into the cyst, draining it, or surgically removing it. Steroid injection will help reduce any swelling if the cyst is tender, swollen, or growing. With drainage, the doctor cuts the cyst and pushes out the fluid. Cysts may still return after this procedure, however.

Minor surgery can help the cyst from coming back. During surgery a dermatologist will remove the discharge and the sac that make up the walls of the cyst.

Laser removal is also an option if needed. The laser is first used to make a small hole for removal of the cyst. The cyst wall is then removed entirely with a minimal excision about one month later. With this method, the cyst is completely removed with only a small scar.

If you have a cyst, it is important to have it checked by a dermatologist to ensure it is benign. If you are in Bloomington, Illinois or the surrounding areas, meet with dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute for a diagnosis and to find out about the best treatment option if needed.

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