Wondering about a sore lump or bump on your skin? You may have a cyst.
Cysts are mostly benign, sac-like pockets of tissue or fluid that can occur anywhere on the body, but are generally found on the face, neck, or trunk. Cysts may be caused by trauma, or blockage of the oil glands in your skin. However, cysts are mostly idiopathic, meaning they arise spontaneously with no known cause.
Cysts typically present as skin-colored nodules under the skin, often with a central opening. They are usually slow-growing, painless, and freely movable. Infected and inflamed cysts are larger, red, and more painful than normal. There are several types of location-specific cysts:
- Epidermoid Cyst: Filled with the protein keratin, can occur anywhere on the body.
- Pilar Cyst (also known as trichilemmal): On the scalp; derived from a hair follicle.
- Pilonidal Cyst: Filled with debris and hair that occur in the gluteal area.
- Digital Myxoid Cyst: Fluid-filled and located on back of the hands and fingers.
- Mucocele Cyst: Fluid-filled with mucous, occuring in the mouth; may result from oral trauma (such as biting your cheek).
- Milium Cysts: Very small cysts just under the skin that look like firm whitehead acne, 1 to 2 mm in diameter, mainly on the face. These cysts are so small that the treatment is often extraction, where your provider will poke the cysts with a sterile blade and use a tool to pop and drain the cystic structure. No numbing is required for this quick procedure.
We can help evaluate and treat cysts. Cysts which are not inflamed or infected may resolve without treatment, but they tend to recur.
If your cyst is inflamed, we may treat it by injecting it with a steroid medication to help decrease inflammation, which will decrease pain and redness.
If your cyst is infected, we may treat it by draining the infected fluid inside. Here’s what to expect:
- The area will be cleaned and numbed with local anesthetic.
- The cyst will then be opened using a sterile blade, and the infected fluid will be expressed.
- We may place a sterile gauze wick in the cavity to prevent it from filling back up.
Once the cyst is not inflamed or infected, surgical excision is the definitive choice for treatment.
Surgery is often the only way to fully remove the cyst’s outer sac, to ensure it does not recur. This requires an in-office procedure:
- The area will be numbed and cleaned.
- Depending on the size of the cyst, we will perform either a punch excision, which uses a small tool to remove the cyst, or a blade to excise it.
- In either case, the incision will be closed with stitches or glue.
- We will provide you with wound care instructions.
Cysts can be painful and unsightly, and they might indicate a more serious medical condition. Call us for evaluation and treatment options at (303) 604-1444.
When To Call Us
Call BV Derm if you experience a nodule under or on top of the skin, or if you suffer from a cyst that you would like excised for definitive treatment. Also call if a cyst turns red, tender, or drains pus, as this may indicate an infection that requires treatment.