As the largest organ of your body, your skin has many responsibilities in protecting you from a wide variety of threats, such as environmental, viral, bacterial, and chemical dangers that lead to other problems if not managed.
There are several common skin problems, such as acne, rashes, blisters, insect bites, cuts, burns, and bruises. Another lesser known but common skin problem are cysts, which come in different types, and are generally harmless.
These pockets of fluid can grow just about anywhere on your skin, and whether or not they require treatment depends on many factors. Let’s learn more about them and when medical intervention is necessary for treatment by examining what causes cysts, what type of cysts affect your skin, and when they may need surgical removal.
If you live in the Sanford, Lillington, or Pittsboro, North Carolina area and you’re dealing with cysts or other skin conditions you don’t know how to manage, Drs. John Cheesborough, Dawn Kleinman, and the skilled medical team at Sanford Dermatology can help.
What causes cysts?
These abnormal growths can occur anywhere inside the body or on the skin, and can come from many different causes, including infection, chronic inflammatory conditions, injury, genetic conditions, tumors, and cellular defects. Cysts on the skin can also result from blockages of sebaceous glands, piercings, and skin inflammation.
Symptoms vary because different causes determine whether you experience any pain or other unpleasant signs associated with cysts. You may not even notice your cyst until it appears visibly as an abnormal growth just underneath the skin. In rare cases, skin cysts can cause ruptures, infection, or inflammation.
What kind of cysts affect your skin?
There are many different types of cysts that can affect your skin, such as:
- Pilar cyst: is often benign and grows from hair follicles, showing up frequently on your scalp, face, neck, arms, and legs
- Epidermoid cyst: filled with the protein keratin from hair follicle trauma, or in rare cases a condition known as Gardner’s syndrome
- Sebaceous cyst: forms in sebaceous glands, which contain hair follicles and make oil for your hair and skin, and is caused by ruptures in those glands
- Ganglion cyst: forms in the tendon sheaths near your wrists, hand, ankle, and feet joints, and is more common in women
- Pilonidal cyst: filled with skin debris, body oils, and various bits of matter; forms at the top of your buttocks; and occurs more frequently in men
- Baker’s (popliteal) cyst: forms in the back of the knee, and can be caused by knee injuries or arthritis
Some of these types of cysts cause further infection, inflammation, and, in the case of pilonidal cysts, squamous cell carcinoma if it becomes chronic.
When should they be removed?
Pain and inflammation associated with cysts generally indicate need for treatment, which can include drainage of the cyst, corticosteroid injections to reduce the inflammation, or, in the cases that neither of those options are effective or the cyst is harder to reach, surgery.
Very large cysts that are causing symptoms may also need surgical removal, and in the cases where the cyst is thought to be cancerous, a biopsy of the cyst wall may be necessary, which can be followed by surgical removal.
In most cases cysts are not dangerous and can be managed with basic care. But, if your cyst is inflamed, painful, and growing, make an appointment with Drs. Cheesborough, Kleinman, and the team at Sanford Dermatology today to get treatment.