How Are Cysts Treated?

Epidermoid, sebaceous, and other types of cysts are non-cancerous lumps that grow slowly over time.  They are generally painless unless they become infected.  As they are unlikely to disappear on their own, treatment by a physician is the best method of dealing with this skin condition.

Cysts are characterized by their relatively small, round shape and the fact that they are movable, with patients being able to roll them under the skin.  Filled with fluid or another material, these closed sacs or pockets may cause little or no irritation unless they rupture on their own.  A ruptured cyst can cause pain and ooze the fluid or material that it contains.  When the keratin within an epidermoid cyst is released into the surrounding skin, this leads to redness, irritation and swelling.

Treatment of a cyst when it is detected can prevent discomfort.  Patients also may choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons, particularly when they are in highly visible locations on the body.

Treatment Options for Cysts

Draining a cyst can treat the immediate concern and relieve symptoms.  For this method, a physician uses a scalpel to pierce the cyst and squeeze out the fluid or other material it contains.  Other treatment options include injecting cortisone into the cyst, causing it to shrink.  Although these options are simple and fast procedures, cysts treated with these methods are likely to recur.

If the cyst is located on a sensitive part of the face, lasers may be used to remove it.  During this procedure a carbon dioxide laser is used to vaporize the cyst.  There is minimal scarring associated with this method.

Minor surgical incision is used to remove the cyst wall and its contents.  The cyst is not likely to recur once it has been excised.  Performed under local anesthesia, this procedure involves making a small incision in the skin and squeezing out the contents of the cyst.  Then the cyst wall is removed using the opening created through the incision.  Stitches aren’t required in most cases, since the opening used to remove the contents and wall of the cyst are very small.

While the removal methods for cysts are generally straightforward and not very painful, it is important to not try to drain or remove a cyst on your own.  This can result in infection and permanent scarring.  Never squeeze a cyst or attempt to pierce it, although your doctor may recommend applying warm, moist heat at home to help it drain.

What to Expect Following Cyst Removal

Your doctor may apply pressure and bandages rather than using stitches following cyst removal depending on the size of the wound.  Topical antibiotics will be used to ensure that the site does not develop an infection and should be applied daily until the area has healed.  Some clear or yellow drainage is normal, but you should inform your doctor if the area feels tender or appears red.  If stitches were used to close the wound, these will be removed in 7 to 10 days.

Cysts are a fairly common skin condition that can be treated by a physician.  Treatment options are straightforward, and your physician can determine the best removal method based on the size and type of cyst you have developed.

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