What Are Cysts?
Cysts are one of the most common skin conditions that result in a lump on the surface of the skin or just beneath it. This condition is non-cancerous and can develop anywhere on the body. Types include epidermoid and sebaceous cysts, which are closed sacs or pockets are filled with fluid or another material. Unlikely to disappear on their own, they can be treated by a physician.
Causes of Cyst Formation
There are a variety of reasons a cyst might develop on or under your skin. These include clogged sebaceous glands, infection, or as a result of a foreign body such as a piece of jewelry that is worn often.
Epidermoid cysts in particular are comprised of fat and keratin, and they develop for multiple reasons including minor skin injuries or acne. Slow-growing, round and painless unless infected, they occur more often in women than in men. These cysts form most often on the upper body, neck, and face and range from a few millimeters to 5 centimeters in diameter. They are referred to as pilar cysts if they form due to swelling around hair follicles.
Sebaceous cysts are less common than epidermoid cysts. They form from the sebaceous glands, which are the oil-producing glands that lubricate skin and hair. Acne increases your risk of developing a sebaceous cyst.
Symptoms of a Cyst
Painless Unless Infected: Cysts are painless unless they become infected. If infection develops, they can become sore to the touch and inflamed. A ruptured cyst also can cause pain and might ooze. In the case of an epidermoid cyst, the keratin it contains can lead to irritation and inflammation if it is released into the surrounding skin.
Smooth and Movable: When a cyst is touched, it feels smooth and can be rolled under the skin.
Dome-Shaped: Generally cysts are small and dome-shaped.
Slow-Growing: A fast-growing lump or bump is unlikely to be a cyst, as they develop slowly over time.
Cysts can develop for a number of reasons and prevention generally is not possible. Since they are more common in people who have acne or other skin conditions, however, it is advisable to take steps to make sure that your underlying skin concerns are being managed properly.
A physician will diagnose a cyst by examining it and taking your medical history into account. Be prepared to discuss when the lump developed, how you noticed it, and whether it has grown in size or changed over time.
Since cysts are most often non-cancerous, the outlook is considered very good. There are generally no complications once a cyst is drained or removed. If a cyst is drained rather than removed, it will return. Surgical removal is considered to be the best method of removal and only requires a small incision. Cysts may develop on other parts of the body over time.
If you are concerned about a skin lump that may be a cyst, contact your physician for a consultation to discuss treatment options.