Cysts are common skin growths that may appear almost anywhere on the body. They are not usually worrisome, but can be cosmetically unappealing or sometimes painful if they become inflamed. Cysts vary in size and may or may not slowly get bigger with time.

Causes: It is not known why cysts appear although some people get many cysts because of genetic and/or environmental influences. Cysts are harmless, sac-like growths that extend into the deeper layers of the skin and often are filled with a fluid or semi-fluid substance.

Symptoms: A cyst appears as an abnormal, often smooth lump under the surface of the skin. It is usually painless to the touch, unless it has become inflamed. If a cyst is inflamed, the area becomes swollen, red, and tender. Sometimes inflammation causes the cyst to rupture and the fluid or semi-solid material may leak through an opening at the skin surface.

Treatment: While some cysts will go away on their own, most cysts will not improve without some sort of medical treatment. Depending on the type of cyst doctors may recommend draining the cyst, treating it with medication to shrink the cyst, or surgically removing the cyst.


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