What are cysts?

A cyst is usually a spherical (ball-like) lesion that contains within it fluid or semi-fluid material. There are rare genetic and environmental causes for cysts, but most cysts occur for unclear reasons (randomly). The most common cysts addressed in a dermatologist's office are epidermal inclusion cysts (also called sebaceous cysts), pilar cysts, and milia. More rare cysts include hidrocystomas, steatocystomas, eruptive vellus hair cysts, and digital mucous cysts.

What are the treatments for cysts?

Although most cysts are harmless and can be left alone, they should be distinguished from skin cancers, including nodulocystic basal cell carcinomas and malignant proliferating trichilemmal cysts. In addition, sometimes cysts can be physically bothersome and may require medical or surgical treatment. Ruptured cysts can be particularly problematic. They occur when the contents of a cyst are released into surrounding skin, which then triggers an intense inflammatory reaction.

After a cyst ruptures, it may be treated with incision and drainage (I&D), steroid injections, and/or oral antibiotics to treat superinfections. It is best to delay surgical excision of a cyst until after all inflammation has settled. If you have a cyst in your skin that is growing or symptomatic, call our office to make an appointment with our dermatologist.

Individual results may vary.

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