A cyst is a sac-like pocket of membranous tissue that contains fluid, air, or other substances. Cysts can grow almost anywhere in your body or under your skin.There are many different types of cysts. Most cysts are benign, or noncancerous.
Whether a cyst needs treatment depends on a number of factors, including:
- the type of cyst
- the location of the cyst
- if the cyst is causing pain or discomfort
- whether or not the cyst is infected
A cyst can appear as a bump on your skin. It may also feel like a small lump if it’s growing just under your skin.
Some cysts grow deep inside your body where you can’t feel them. However, they may cause or be related to other symptoms. For example, ovarian cysts, such as those that result from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), may cause problems with ovarian and reproductive function. Polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which causes cysts to form in the kidney, can adversely affect kidney function.
Cysts usually grow slowly and have a smooth surface. They can be tiny or very large. Most cysts aren’t painful.
They usually don’t cause problems unless they’re:
- very large
- impinging on a nerve or blood vessel
- growing in a sensitive area
- affecting the function of an organ
Most types of cysts can’t be prevented. However, there are exceptions.
Women prone to ovarian cysts may be able to prevent new cysts from forming by using hormonal contraceptives.
Cleaning your eyelid near the eyelash line with a gentle cleanser can help keep the oil ducts from becoming blocked. This may help prevent chalazia.
You can prevent pilonidal cysts from forming by keeping the skin in the affected area clean and dry. Getting up every so often instead of sitting for a long time can also help prevent these cysts.
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.