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Cysts Under the Skin

Cysts Under the Skin

Cysts under the skin are usually in the form of a sac or pouch and they may or may not be painful. We inform you about the causes and treatment methods for skin cysts.
Kundan Pandey
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
Have you ever found a small bump on your wrists, hands, or on some other parts of the body resembling an acne? If yes, then it is highly likely that you have a skin cyst that generally doesn't pose any serious health risk. Cysts can grow on any part of the body and can affect any individual irrespective of age. Mostly, cysts equal the size of peas and exist beneath the surface of the skin, filled with some liquid or semi-solid substance. Medical science studies cysts by dividing them into hundreds of types. Mentioned further are some of the most common forms of cysts that occur under our skin:
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Cysts within the thyroid gland
  • Ganglion cysts (in tendons and joints)
  • Pilonidal cysts
  • Baker's cyst
  • Cystic acne
  • Sebaceous cysts
  • Lipoma
Our skin is a sensitive organ and is vulnerable to all sorts of external infections and environmental changes. As per dermatologists, cysts may occur because of skin infections or acute inflammatory conditions. Heredity is also cited to be one of the most common reasons for existence of skin complications like cysts amongst numerous individuals. Although there are many forms of cysts, understanding the most commonly found cysts, the sebaceous cysts and cystic acne, will help us to understand them skin cysts more closely.

Sebaceous Cysts
Sebaceous cysts, also known as epidermoid cysts, are usually found on ears, upper arms, scalp, and back. The small, whitish lump in the skin is usually called milla, whereas those that occur on the scalp are known as wens. Wens are filled with the fatty matter 'sebum' that is secreted by the sebaceous glands. Generally, the size of cysts equals 5 mm to 4 cm in diameter, but the sizes may vary depending on the intensity and duration for which the cyst has affected the skin.

Our skin epidermis is made up of a thin lining of epithelial cells that are shed occasionally by the skin to replace them with new cells. However, frequently instead of dropping off, these cells penetrate deep into the skin and cause sebaceous cysts. The sebaceous cysts are generally round, smooth, soft, and whitish-yellow. When an infected sebaceous cyst erupts, a foul-smelling, whitish-gray, semi-solid substance oozes out from it.

Generally, sebaceous cysts get removed naturally after few days, but if they don't fade away after few days of their occurrence, they may cause some pain and discomfort in the affected body area. Treatments for sebaceous cysts involve open and minimal excision. If you have cysts that have grown over a long period and have matured causing pain, then for complete removal you require the minimal excision technique. Taking proper skin care and preventing the skin from infections can help you reduce the risk of cysts. Many people are allergic to skin creams and cosmetics, so they must avoid applying them on their skins as they can lead to cysts and similar skin problems.

Cystic Acne
Cystic acne is a severe type of acne that commonly affects teenagers. It is one of the most painful cysts that occur under the skin because of the blockage of the oil ducts, that lead to infections. Many factors are responsible for occurrence of cystic acne like the type of skin, skin infections, and genetic causes of skin complications. Treatment for cystic acne involves a complete cleaning of the skin using a specific skin treatment methodology. The skin is treated with the chemicals like benzoyl peroxide and other cleansers to remove the dirt, dust, and maintain its hygiene.

Another very common lump that is found under the skin is lipoma, popularly known as a 'lump of fat'. Lipomas are benign fatty cysts that are generally painless. They may be dome or egg-shaped and often grow up to 2 to 10 cm in diameter.

Normally, cysts are benign and don't impose any restrictions on daily activities of individuals. Many cysts go unnoticed due to their harmless nature. However, if cysts at some places on the skin bother an individual and interfere with daily life, one must seek consultation with an expert dermatologist. Some people simply want their cysts to be removed because of cosmetic reasons. Also, if the cysts swell causing discomfort, they can become more severe in later stages. So, it is better to be safe than sorry and seek medical advice before it is too late.