Skin cysts are very common, and many people will experience them at some point in their life. Often, a skin cyst is temporary and will resolve on its own. However, other cysts can be persistent and grow quite large or cause discomfort. In these cases, a dermatologist like Dr. Damstetter can safely remove the cyst to relieve symptoms.
A skin cyst is a lump that typically contains benign tissue within a capsule and forms just below the skin. Most cysts are small and will disappear without treatment, but others can grow or persist. If you notice a cyst that lasts for several weeks, grows in size, or becomes increasingly painful, you should quickly see a dermatologist for treatment. It can also be beneficial to have persistent cysts examined to ensure you have not mistaken them for another more serious condition.
There are several common types of cysts that can affect the skin. Some of these include:
- Epidermoid cysts, which form when the epidermis grows downward and contains keratin, a protein involved in forming the protective layer of the outer skin.
- Sebaceous cysts, which are filled with sebum (oil) and form in the hair follicles
- Pilar cysts, which are skin-colored lumps that form on the surface of the skin on the scalp and can grow to larger sizes
- Meibomian cysts or chalazions are cysts that form on the eyelids. In some cases, these should be treated by an ophthalmologist rather than a dermatologist
- Cystic acne
Most skin cysts develop as a result of keratin, a protein within the skin, growing abnormally. In the case of cysts, the keratin will grow downward deeper into the skin, eventually forming a sac. This sac will then fill with tissue or liquid, causing the bump or growth. Cysts are more common if you have damaged your skin in some way, especially in the case of damaged hair follicles. They are also more likely during puberty and among those who suffer with acne.
Most skin cysts are harmless and do not require treatment. Applying a warm compress to the cyst can help encourage healing and relieve swelling or inflammation. Do not attempt to pop or drain the cyst at home, as this can increase your risk of infection.
If a skin cyst persists, grows to an unmanageable size, is painful, or becomes infected, a dermatologist like Dr. Damstetter can help safely remove it. This process begins by first numbing the skin using a topical or local anesthetic. The cyst can then be removed using a scalpel or similar tool. In most cases, this is sufficient to permanently remove the cyst, though some may recur, especially those found on the scalp or groin area. Scarring may also occur, particularly if the cyst was quite large. After your procedure, Dr. Damstetter will advise how to care for the incision to encourage proper healing and avoid infection or other complications.
If you have a cyst that you would like to remove, schedule an appointment with Dr. Damstetter at Reserve Dermatology. Call our Glenview, Illinois office or contact us online.