You or someone you know has probably had some kind of cyst. In many cases, a person will have a cyst, not realize what it is, and then ignore it because it’s not bothering them at the moment.
But this can turn a minor issue into a larger, chronic problem.
The Most Common Type of Cyst
Different types of cysts occur in different parts of the body for different reasons, so it’s important to have a general understanding of cysts and, if you notice one developing, have it checked by a specialist.
The most common type of cyst is a sebaceous cyst. Think of a cyst as a balloon with the opening at the top on the outside of the skin. The skin on the inside that lines the balloon is producing skin cells.
Instead of those skin cells falling off into the atmosphere, the cells become trapped in the balloon. The balloon grows as it becomes filled with skin cells. The balloon may even rupture, which causes the cyst to become painful.
Essentially, a cyst is a ball of skin cells that are trapped underneath the skin.
Why Does A Cyst Require Treatment?
Ideally, a cyst should be treated before it ruptures. When a cyst ruptures, the skin cells in the balloon disperse and break up in the area under the skin.
This causes a lot of pain and inflammation that tends to last a long time because the body has to break down and carry away skin cells that don’t belong under the skin.
Because the cyst has been emptied, it’s capable of recovering and starting again. The cyst can repeatedly rupture and fill up. This cycle is not only painful, but it also creates scarring in the area.
Chronically ruptured cysts are complicated and difficult to treat because the area turns into a mix of scar tissue and a number of small cysts that have broken off and formed. At that point, it’s usually best to surgically remove the entire area of skin.
On the other hand, if the cyst isn’t ruptured, it’s relatively easy to remove the entire cyst, which allows the wound care to heal quickly so you can avoid the problems of chronically ruptured cysts.
Related: What To Expect From A Cyst Removal
When Is It Time to See A Dermatologist?
A cyst feels like a little knot or kernel underneath the skin. It may begin as an ingrown hair or acne pore that becomes infected, creating an opportunity for the skin to get turned in on itself. The cyst may also drain a bit. A Pilar cyst grows on the scalp and tends to be hereditary, while epidermoid cysts occur on other parts of the body and will not go away on their own.
If a cyst becomes infected, it can limit the treatment options to draining and antibiotics. The sooner you see a dermatologist after noticing a cyst, the smaller the chance of pain developing or the cyst coming back. If you’re not sure if you have a cyst, see a dermatologist and let an expert make the diagnosis.