When we talk to our patients about cysts, they frequently ask us if we watch Dr. Pimple Popper. The simple truth is, that we don’t. However, we get to live the dream by working on cysts every day. These fluid-filled sacs in the skin are common, and because of that we see and treat them very frequently in our dermatology clinics. From your head to your toes, people can develop cysts on virtually any part of their skin. Most of the time these don’t require any treatment. However, there are a few circumstances that may necessitate having your cysts treated. Also, there are many different cysts types that pop up on the skin.
Cysts Types & Treatments
Epidermoid cysts (formerly known as sebaceous cysts, wen, or boil) are the most common type. Sebaceous gland cysts occur due to plugging in a pore on the skin. When the pore plugs, its contents are locked in place, with nowhere to go. This pore has a lining of skin and an attached oil gland. As that skin is sloughed off within the pore it is normally pushed through to the surface and shed gradually like all our skin.
In the case of a cyst, the pore gradually swells and enlarges as it fills with these materials over time. Eventually, this leads up to a mass that can be felt and sometimes seen through the skin. Epidermoid cysts develop in many different areas of the body. Some of the more common areas they are seen are the torso including the chest and back, as well as the face and neck region. The classic appearance of the cyst is a lump in the skin with an overlying prominent pore called a punctum. This prominent pore may look like a dark spot or a small dimple in the skin.
Epidermoid Cysts made the #9 spot on our list of Top Ten Common Skin Spots
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that forms in or on the surface of the ovaries. While most women will have an ovarian cyst at one point or another, they typically do not present any discomfort and are harmless. For most women, ovarian cysts will disappear without treatment over the course of a few months. However, if an ovarian cyst ruptures or is abnormally large this can cause serious symptoms.
Symptoms of a large ovarian cyst include pelvic pain, abdominal bloating or swelling, painful intercourse, lower back pain, breast tenderness, nausea, and vomiting.
Consult with your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms.
- Severe abdominal or pelvic pain
- Pain with fever or vomiting
- Cold, clammy skin
- Rapid breathing
- Lightheadedness or weakness
What Type of Ovarian Cyst Do You Have?
Many women will develop at least one cyst over their lifetime. In some cases, the fluid-filled sac will develop on one of the ovaries causing an ovarian cyst. While there are other types of cysts, the most common cyst types are functional cysts. The two types of functional cysts are follicular cysts and corpus luteum cysts.
During a woman’s menstrual cycle, an egg bursts out of its follicle and travels down the fallopian tube. If the sac doesn’t rupture or release its egg, the fluid inside the sac can cause a follicular cyst to form in the ovary.
Corpus Luteum Cyst
During the process of a follicle releasing its egg, it begins producing estrogen and progesterone for conception. Most of the time this sac will dissolve after releasing an egg. However, if the fluid-filled sac does not dissolve, the accumulation of fluid can cause the corpus luteum to grow into a cyst.
If you or a loved one thinks that you might have an ovarian cyst, we recommend consulting with your doctor for a pelvic exam.
Other Types of Ovarian Cysts
This type of cyst is rarely cancerous. Also called teratomas, these sac-like growths on the ovaries can contain hair, fat, and other tissues that form from embryonic cells.
Cystadenomas are noncancerous growths that develop on the surface of the outer surface of the ovary and can contain a mucous material.
An endometrioma develops as a result of tissues that normally grow inside the uterus developing outside the uterus (endometriosis). This tissue can then attach to an ovary and cause an ovarian cyst.
The second most common type of cyst is known as a pilar cyst. More than 95 percent of these cysts are found on the scalp. It’s believed that they specifically develop from the hair follicle. Usually, with pilar cysts, we see a bump that can be virtually any size on the scalp. Sizes range from smaller than a pea to as large as a baseball. Sometimes people can have multiple pilar cysts. The tendency to get these types of cysts can also run in families.
The good news is most breast lumps, such as cysts, are noncancerous (benign). Breast cysts vary in size and may be found in women of all ages. However, it is most common for them to occur in women before menopause, under the age of 50, or in postmenopausal women taking hormonal therapy. Although breast cysts do not require treatment, if the cyst is large or painful, it is possible to drain fluid from the cyst in order to ease symptoms. In the case of a breast lump that does not go away or gets bigger after one or two menstrual cycles, experts suggest visiting your doctor right away.
This type of cyst is a noncancerous lump and most commonly appears around the tendons or joints of your wrists or hands. A ganglion cyst may also form around your ankles and feet. While ganglion cysts are typically pea-sized, larger cysts can form to be around an inch in diameter. If the cyst interferes with joint movement or is painful, your doctor may suggest removing the cyst with a needle or surgically removing the cyst. However, in most cases, a ganglion cyst will go away on its own.
A pilonidal cyst is a painful condition characterized by a small sac or pocket that forms at the base of the tailbone. It often contains hair, debris, and bacteria, leading to infection and inflammation. Treatment options range from warm compresses and antibiotics for mild cases to surgical drainage or excision for severe or recurrent cysts.
Omaha Dermatologists Cysts Treatments
The best dermatologists are in essence “cystologists.” They have experience in diagnosing and managing cysts, especially determining when to treat them and how to treat them depending on the type. Most skin cysts need no treatment. Usually, with a good examination, a dermatology provider can determine if a lump in the skin shows the typical characteristics of a cyst.
If it does and there are no other complicating factors, it can simply be observed. At-home remedies can include a warm washcloth compress and bandaging to control drainage if needed. However, there may be certain times when treatment or removal of cysts may need to be considered.
When should you have a cyst removed?
Because a cyst can continue to gradually grow over time, eventually it may rupture. When this occurs in a very short period, even overnight, a cyst can dramatically increase in size becoming painfully inflamed and potentially infected.
Surgical Cysts Treatments
Incision & Drainage
At times like this, it may be necessary to perform an incision and drainage of a cyst. This involves a surgical procedure whereby a small incision is made over the surface of the cyst and the contents are literally squeezed out of it. It’s important to know that this type of procedure is only a temporary fix.
It generally does not remove the lining of the cyst but rather the contents. By doing this we can help subside the pain and inflammation. However, a cyst may refill with its contents over time repeating the cycle. In some cases, they can continue to drain on a more constant basis, leading up to staining of clothing, and embarrassment due to potential odor problems from the drainage.
Surgical Cyst Removal
For cysts that are causing more long-term issues or that continue to grow, removal should be considered. In this procedure, the entire lining and contents of the cyst are surgically removed. Surgically removing a cyst helps to prevent the cyst from returning in the future.
Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands | Best Dermatologist Omaha & Council Bluffs, IA | Board Certified Dermatologists
Hands-down, cysts are one of the most common growths that we as dermatologist see you in the skin. Most of the time no treatment is needed for these, but there are certainly many cases where removal or drainage may be helpful. At Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands we have extensive experience managing all type of cyst in the skin. If we may be of further assistance, please reach out to us. Contact us to schedule a consultation and receive medical advice from one of our board-certified dermatologists.