Cysts: What They Are, What Causes Them, and How They Are Treated

The very word “cyst” can make even the bravest man shudder a bit. Most people associate cysts with cancer. The good news is that most cysts aren’t actually cancerous at all, and benign cysts, especially those addressed by a dermatologist, are very easily treated. Here’s what you need to know before heading into your appointment.

Types of Cysts

There are actually a lot of different types of cysts, and not all of them are addressed by dermatologists. However, there are several types of cysts that we do treat. These include:

  • Epidermoid cyst—Small cysts just under the surface of the skin, usually located on the face, head, or neck, and may also be located on the back or genitals. These cysts are usually caused by keratin buildup.
  • Sebaceous cyst—More painful cysts that are noncancerous and slow-growing, but can cause some difficulty and pain if not removed. These, too, are found on the face, neck, and torso.
  • Cystic acne—This is by far the most common type of cysts that we treat. Cystic acne is the most severe type of acne in which many small cysts form under the skin and within the pores. It can be painful and leave behind scarring.

Treatments for Cysts

Like many dermatological symptoms, treatment for cysts will usually start at home. Depending on the type of cysts you have, your doctor might recommend different over-the-counter products. Often, a warm compress on the cyst can help it drain and speed up healing. 

It is important that you do not attempt to pop or lance the cyst yourself. If the cyst formed due to infection, you could cause more harm by doing so. If you’re not sure what you should be doing at home, talk to your doctor.

Some other treatments your doctor might try include:

  • Draining fluids from the cysts
  • Prescribing medications to decrease inflammation in the cyst to promote healing
  • Surgically removing the cyst, which is generally a last resort

Are you concerned about cysts?

Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our experienced dermatologists.

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