Distinguish between a sebaceous cyst and epidermoid cyst. An epidermoid cyst is more common than a sebaceous cyst. Each will have slightly different symptoms and will be treated just a little differently. Therefore, it is important that the cyst you have on your skin is diagnosed appropriately for effective treatment.
Both types of cysts are flesh-colored or white-yellow and have a smooth surface.
Epidermoid cysts are more common. These are slow growing and often painless. They don’t usually require treatment, unless they are causing pain or become infected.
Pilar cysts are composed primarily of keratin (the protein that makes up hair and nails) and form from the outer hair root sheath, typically on the head. A pilar cyst is often thought to be another term for a sebaceous cysts, but they are in fact different.
Sebaceous cysts are commonly found in the hair follicles on the head. They form inside the glands that secrete sebum, an oily substance that coats the hair. When these normal secretions are trapped, they develop into a pouch containing a cheese-like substance. They are commonly found in areas near the neck, upper back, and on the scalp. Sebaceous cysts are often confused with pilar or epidermoid cysts.
Distinguish between cysts in the breast and tumors. Cysts can be in one or both breasts. Without a mammogram or needle biopsy it is almost impossible to distinguish between the two different types of lumps in the breast. Symptoms of a breast cyst will include:
Smooth, easily movable lump with distinct edges
Pain or tenderness over the lump
Size and tenderness will increase just before your period starts
Size and tenderness will decrease when your period ends
Understand cystic acne. Acne is a general term that describes a variety of different types of pimples, blackheads, pustules, whiteheads and cysts. Cystic acne are nodules that are red, raised, often 2–4 mm in size and nodular and are the most severe form of acne. The infection in a cystic acne is deeper than that in other pustules or whiteheads. Cystic acne is painful.
Identify a ganglion cyst. These are the most common types of lumps found on the hand and wrist. They are not cancerous and often harmless. Filled with fluid, they can quickly appear, disappear or change in size. They do not require treatment unless they interfere with function or are unacceptable in appearance.
Determine if pain is from a pilonidal cyst. In this condition there is a cyst, abscess or dimple that forms in the crease between the buttocks that runs from the lower end of the spine to the anus. It can be caused from wearing tight clothing, excess body hair, sitting for long periods of time or obesity. Symptoms can include pus from the area, tenderness over the cyst, or the skin may be warm, tender or swollen near the tailbone. Or there may not be any symptoms beside a pit or dimple at the base of the spine.
Distinguish a Bartholin gland cyst. These glands are located on either side of the vaginal opening to lubricate the vagina. When the gland becomes obstructed, a relatively painless swelling forms called a Bartholin’s cyst. If the cyst is not infected you may not notice it. An infection can occur in a matter of days causing tenderness, fever, discomfort walking, pain with intercourse, and a tender, painful lump near the vaginal opening.
See a doctor for swelling in the testicles. All testicular swelling must be diagnosed by a physician to determine the differences between a cyst, cancerous growth, hydrocele or infection in the testicles. A testicular cysts, also called a spermatocele or epididymal cyst, is typically a painless, fluid-filled, noncancerous sac in the scrotum above the testicles. T
Consider getting a second opinion if you are not satisfied with your physician’s diagnosis and treatment. Although most epidermoid and pilar cysts do not require treatment from a physician, if you do seek medical advice and are not satisfied with the results seek a second opinion. Most sebaceous and epidermoid cysts are straightforward, but there are other conditions that may mimic these cysts.
In a case study written in the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the authors presented two cases in which melanoma and a deep oral cavity were originally mistaken for a sebaceous cyst.
There are a variety of other infectious processes that may be mistaken for a sebaceous cyst, including boils, furuncles and carbuncles.
Treating a Cyst at Home
Treat uninfected epidermoid and sebaceous cysts at home. Signs of infection include the area becoming swollen, red, tender, or red and warm. If your home treatment for these cysts is not effective or if you experience symptoms, which indicate an infection, you should seek medical care from your physician.
If the cyst causes pain or discomfort with walking or intercourse, medical care is needed to treat the cyst.
Use a wet, warm compress over an epidermoid cyst to encourage it to drain and heal. The washcloth should be hot but not so hot that it burns the skin. Place it over the cyst two to three times a day.
Cystic acne responds better to ice than it does to heat.
Bartholin gland cysts can be treated at home using warm water sitz baths. This involves sitting in several inches of warm water to encourage the cyst to drain.
Refrain from picking, squeezing, or trying to pop either an epidermoid cyst or sebaceous cyst. This can increase the risk of infection and scarring. Also, never pick, squeeze or attempt to pop a cystic acne. This drives the infection deeper and increases the risk of scar tissue.
Allow an epidermoid cyst to drain naturally. Once it begins to drain, cover it with a sterile dressing, which you can change twice a day. If a large amount of pus begins to drain from the cyst, the skin surrounding the cyst turns red, the area becomes warm and tender, or blood begins to drain from the cyst, it is time to seek medical care.
Keep the area clean. To prevent an infection, keep the cyst and the area surrounding it clean. Wash it daily using an antibacterial soap or cream.
Cysts are fluid-filled pockets that form on the skin. While not usually dangerous, they can be painful and annoying. Depending on the type of cyst, you can usually have a cyst medically removed with the assistance of a doctor.
Dealing with Facial Cysts
Decide if medical intervention is necessary. Facial cysts, medically referred to as sebaceous cysts, can be annoying and unsightly but they don’t necessarily require medical intervention. If the cyst is not painful, it might be best to leave it alone to avoid complications having it removed. However, you should see a doctor if any of the following develop:
-Facial cysts are usually small, round lumps just underneath the skin. They may be black, reddish or yellowish, and occasionally release foul-smelling discharge. Cysts are generally more painful than other skin conditions, such as pimples.
-If the cyst ruptures, this can lead to a potentially dangerous boil-like infection. Prompt treatment and removal is required.
-If the cyst suddenly becomes painful and swollen, it may be infected. See a doctor to get the cyst removed and get the proper antibiotics.
-In very rare cases, a cyst can lead to skin cancer. During your regular annual doctor’s exam, ask your doctor to look at the cyst and determine if it poses a risk for cancer.
Dealing with Facial Cysts
Ask your doctor for an injection. If the cyst is infected or painful, your doctor can inject the cyst with a medication. While this will not fully remove the cyst, it will reduce redness and swelling. This can make the cyst less noticeable.
Have the cyst drained. If the cyst grows significantly or becomes painful and uncomfortable, you can have it medically removed. The cyst can be cut open and drained by your doctor.
– The doctor will make a small cut in the cyst and gently drains out the built up fluid. The procedure is fairly quick and usually not painful.
– The major downside to this method is that cysts often reoccur after being lanced and drained.
Ask about surgery. The only way to fully remove a cyst is through surgery. Talk to your doctor about undergoing surgery if you want a cyst removed.
– Cyst removal surgery is minor. It does not take very long and recovery time is relatively brief. However, you may have to return to your doctor’s office after the surgery to remove any stitches.
– Surgery is very safe and usually prevents cysts from occurring. However, cysts do not usually pose a medical threat. Therefore it may be difficult to get surgery covered by insurance.
Treating a Baker’s Cyst
Follow the R.I.C.E. method. A baker’s cyst is a fluid-filled cyst that causes a bulge at the base of the knee. It’s usually the result of an existing knee injury or a chronic condition like arthritis. Caring for your joints via the R.I.C.E. method can help.
– R.I.C.E. stands for resting your leg, icing your knee, compressing your knee with a wrap, and elevating your leg whenever possible.
– Rest your leg, preferably in an elevated position, as the cyst persists. Make sure to never place an ice pack directly on your body. Always wrap it in a cloth or towel first.
– When wrapping your leg, buy a wrap at a drugstore and follow the instructions on the package. If you have any conditions that increase your risk of blood clots, do not wrap your leg without consulting with a doctor first.
– R.I.C.E. might treat underlying joint pain that caused a the cyst to begin with. The cyst may decreases in size and stop causing pain.
– Try over the counter pain meds. While resting an elevating your leg, medications like ibuprofen, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and aspirin can help ease some of the pain.
Ask your doctor to drain the cyst. In order to get the cyst removed, you need a doctor to drain it. If your baker’s cyst does not respond to the R.I.C.E. method, see a doctor about having it removed medically.
– The fluid will be drained from your knee using a needle. While this is not extremely painful, many people find the activity anxiety-inducing. If you fear needles, as a friend or family member to come with you for support.
– Once the doctor drains the fluid, the baker’s cyst should be gone. However, there is a chance the cyst will reoccur in the future. Talk to your doctor about any underlying health conditions that might have caused the cyst.
Participate in physical therapy. After the cyst is drained, your doctor might recommend you engage in regular physical therapy. Gentle motion, guided by a trained therapist, can help you get your joints back in form. It can also help address any issues that caused the cyst to develop. Ask your doctor for a recommendation for a physical therapist after your cyst is drained.
Coping with Ovarian Cysts
Watch and wait. Ovarian cysts are fluid filled sacs found on the surface of the ovaries. Unfortunately, ovarian cysts can be difficult to remove. The best approach after the initial diagnosis is to watch and wait.
– Some ovarian cysts may go away on their own. Your doctor might want you to wait and then get reexamined after a few months have passed.
– Your doctor will have to monitor the cyst on a regular basis to see if it’s changed in size. After a certain point, medical intervention may be necessary.
Ask about birth control pills. Birth control pills are usually the first course of action to lessen ovarian cysts. Ask your doctor about getting a prescription for hormonal birth control pills.
– Hormonal birth control pills can decrease the size of existing cysts and prevent further cysts from developing. They also decrease the risk of ovarian cancer, especially if you take them for a long duration.
– Birth control comes in a variety of formulations and dosing schedules. Some allow for a monthly bleed, and others for less frequent bleeding. Some have iron supplementation, and others do not. It is imperative to talk with your primary care provider to discuss which option fits with your lifestyle, goals, and overall health and history.
– Some women experience side effects like breast tenderness, mood swings, or bleeding between periods when they first start taking hormonal birth control. These side effects usually lessen after a few months.
Consider surgery. Ovarian cysts can be painful and even dangerous if they continue to grow. If your cyst does not go away on its own, you doctor might prescribe surgical treatment.
– If your cyst persists after two or three menstrual cycles, your doctor might recommend surgical removal if it is growing at an excessive rate. Cysts this large can cause pain and menstrual irregularity.
– In some surgeries, the entire infected ovary may be removed. However, in most cases the doctor should be able to remove the cyst while leaving the ovary intact. In rare cases, cysts are cancerous. If this is the case, your doctor will likely remove all your reproductive organs.
Get regular pelvic examinations. The best course of action for ovarian cysts is prevention. Get regular gynecological examinations and be aware of any changes in your menstrual cycle. The sooner ovarian cysts are detected, the easier they are to treat. A routine pelvic exam can detect signs of irregularities that could be caused by ovarian cysts.
Treating A Pilonidal Cyst
Remove the hair follicles causing the cyst. A pilonidal cyst is a cyst that occurs around the buttocks or lower back. The cyst may be tender, warm to the touch, and may produce pus or other drainage. In order to stop the cyst from growing, keep the area surrounding it clean and dry. Pilonidal cysts are often caused by ingrown hairs, which are hairs trapped beneath the surface of the skin. Remove any hair follicles near the cyst to prevent them from becoming ingrown.
Have the cyst examined. As pilonidal cysts can lead to potentially serious infections, you should always have them examined by a medical professional. Make an appointment with your general practitioner when you notice the development of a pilonidal cyst.
– Usually, a doctor will give you a brief physical examination and look at the cyst. The doctor will also ask about any drainage you’ve noticed, whether the cyst is painful, and how long you think it’s been there.
– The doctor will also ask whether you have other symptoms. If the cyst has caused a rash or fever, the doctor might recommend removal. If the cyst is not causing problems no treatment is needed.
Get the cyst drained. The least invasive measure to remove a pilonidal cyst is having it lanced and drained. The doctor will cut a small hole in the cyst and drain any excess fluid. The cyst will then be packed with gauze. You may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection.
Ask about surgery. Cysts sometimes recur after draining. Your doctor might recommend surgical removal. Surgery is usually brief, but recovery time can be lengthy and you may have an open wound that needs cleaning.