Cysts are growth under the skin that accumulate material in a sack, gradually expanding over time. They can occur nearly anywhere on the body. They are typically soft, mobile, and painless. Sometimes they can have a pore at the surface which will occasionally discharge some of the cyst’s contents. Cyst come in many different types and sizes.
Types of Cysts
Milia are a very small type of cyst that primarily occur on the face and are often confused as whiteheads.
Epidermoid cysts, sometimes called Sebaceous cysts, are the most common type of cyst that occur nearly anywhere on the body. They are soft, mobile, and ofter have a dilated central pore. They can range in size from 1/2 inch to several inches.
Pilar cysts are a firm, rubbery type of cyst that occurs primarily on the scalp. Some people are genetically predisposed to these types of cysts and can develop many on their scalp over time.
Complications can develop within cysts, especially if trauma causes them to rupture under the skin. This can result in pain, redness, swelling, and infection. For this reason, squeezing or popping a cyst is discouraged.
Depending on their size, there are several ways to remove a cyst. Milia can be removed by a simple extraction technique, which are included in facials performed at our offices (see spa services). Most epidermoid and pilar cysts can be removed with a simple, in office procedure with minimal discomfort and often performed on the same day as your exam. After numbing the cyst, an incision in made to allow complete removal of the cyst wall and its contents, followed by repair of the incision, typically with sutures. If a cyst has ruptured, it may require an alternative approach including antibiotics, steroid injections, or simple drainage. A small percentage of cyst may grow back.
Physical activity levels may be limited for up to 2 weeks depending on the part of the body treated and if sutures were required. A pathologist will confirm the diagnosis of a benign cyst and patients are typically notified within 2 weeks. Cyst removal is typically covered through insurance. You are encouraged to call your dermatologist if there is regrowth.