Have you found a mass forming on your hand or another part of your body? It could be a cyst and you may want to hop over to your local dermatologist for some help. Cysts are prevalent and easily treatable through cyst removal. Here are some things you need to know about them.
What are cysts?
Cysts are closed, thin-walled sacs filled with fluid or semi-fluid material located on the body. Cysts can also be confused with lipomas, which we will touch on shortly.
Skin lumps caused by cysts and lipomas can ruin the appearance of your skin and wreck your confidence, but getting treatment at Eternal Dermatology can help.
Cyst removal or lipoma removal is performed by a quick, in-office excision procedure. There are a few types of benign (non-cancerous) cysts:
1. Epidermal cysts
Epidermal cysts are skin-colored bumps on the face, neck, back, or anywhere on the body. The skin can be skin-colored, whitish, or yellowish in color. They are freely movable and contain a cheese-like substance made from broken-down, built-up keratin. You may recognize these from the now popular “Dr. Pimple Popper” videos online. These can become painful and may become infected.
2. Pilar cysts (wens)
Pilar cysts appear most often on the scalp and sometimes show up in groups. Protein buildup within a hair follicle is the usual culprit. They appear similar to epidermal cysts but are firmer in texture. And while there is no real cause, middle-aged women are more likely to develop these bumps. Pilar cysts are the same color as your skin can cause a dome-like appearance. Pilar cysts are also painless but can eventually become uncomfortable. In rare cases, pillar cysts can become infected and need medical intervention.
Milia are small, firm, whitish bumps on the face and around the eyes. Although they don’t typically require treatment, adults may want milia removed for cosmetic reasons.
4. Ganglion cysts
A ganglion cyst appears where there are joints and tendons, usually the wrists, ankles, feet, and hands. These contain clear fluid and are soft to the touch. While their exact cause is unknown, they are often a result of overuse or injury to the joint. People who frequently use their hands in heavy machinery, painters, and assembly line workers can develop ganglion cysts. These are often harmless but can begin to press on tendons and nerves, causing pain.
5. Cyst Acne
We get clients from time to time with cyst acne. This is a severe form of acne, where cysts form deep beneath the skin on the face. These can also develop on the back, chest, and arms. Cyst Acne could be a combination of dirt, bacteria, and oil trapped beneath the skin. Cyst acne needs proper dermatological treatment, as the over-the-counter medication will not help here.
Are there any risks?
Cysts are often harmless but can develop into more serious issues. For instance, cysts can fill with other bacteria or pus, evolving into an abscess. If a spot ruptures, you are at risk for blood poisoning. Based on the type of cyst, it can become cancerous. A cancerous cyst needs to be diagnosed by a doctor and treated. The treatment depends on the mass’s location and the size of the cancerous cells. If left untreated, the cyst may be at risk of spreading to other parts of your body. For cancerous cells, the surrounding tissue may have to be removed. In some cases, treatment can also be as extensive as radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
What are lipomas?
Lipomas are common fatty lumps under the skin. They can appear anywhere on the body and feel soft and doughy to the touch. Lipomas are most often found in men and women from the ages of 40-60 but can be seen in any age group.
Generally, they cause no symptoms. However, if lipomas grow large enough, they may cause pain by pressing on surrounding nerves or blood vessels. They can also be cosmetically disfiguring.
How do cysts and lipomas form?
Cysts and lipomas have many different causes, including:
- Clogged hair follicles
- Penetrating injuries
- Skin conditions, such as acne and folliculitis
- Genetic factors
At Eternal Dermatology, we will determine the type of lump you have — whether a cyst or lipoma — and provide treatment options.
How are cysts and lipomas diagnosed?
Determining the cause of your lump begins with a physical exam. We will press on the lump to feel its texture and size and checks whether it can be moved underneath your skin or not.
How are cysts and lipomas treated?
Many small cysts and lipomas do not require treatment. However, they can be removed if they are large, infected, painful, or for cosmetic reasons. Both cyst removal and lipoma removal involve the administration of local anesthetic (which does not put patients to sleep). The doctor then makes a small incision to drain the fluid. Depending on the cyst’s size, your dermatologist will place some gauze at the surgical site to absorb any liquid. The patient can remove the gauze within 48 hours.
Furthermore, antibiotics can help with possible infection in the affected area. Depending on the size of the cyst, you should heal within 1-2 weeks. Drainage is not always recommended. This drainage method can cause scarring, making returning cyst more complicated to remove in the future.
This method is another form of drainage. Your doctor or dermatologist inserts a needle into the cyst. The puncture helps drain the lump, decreasing the volume. Doctors commonly use this method on the breast.
Suspicious lumps may be cysts, lipomas, or other benign growths. However, they could be something more serious — like skin cancer.
We strongly recommend you do not attempt to remove a cyst at home. Self-removal can be harmful if the mass is not a cyst. Squeezing or popping can lead to a severe infection. Removing at home can also harm the surrounding area or cause the cyst to grow back.
Before attempting to fix the issues at home, seek professional guidance to ensure you are dealing with an actual cyst. A dermatologist can examine and recommend the proper treatment to minimize this mass.
At Eternal Dermatology, Dr. Rodney is a board-certified dermatologist, with expertise in the removal of benign growths like moles, cysts, lipomas, skin tags, and age spots. She also specializes in the diagnosis and removal of skin cancers.
Call or click to schedule an appointment online today for evaluation and treatment at Eternal Dermatology. We are located in Fulton MD, and service Columbia MD, Ellicott City MD, Laurel MD, and surrounding areas in Howard County MD, PG County MD, and Montgomery County MD.