Cysts are benign growths which form inside the skin. They may cause irritation or pain when they become infected. A cyst can lead to infection of other parts of your body such as the bladder, kidneys, lungs, heart and brain. If left untreated, it could even spread to other organs like the liver or bones. There are several types of cysts, but most commonly known as sebaceous (oil) glands. These are found on the face, neck, chest and back.
What Is a Sebum?
A sebaceous gland is a small organ located under the surface of your skin that produces oil. It contains tiny ducts called sebocytes which produce the oily substance known as sebum. Sebum is made up mainly of fatty acids and waxes (such as cholesterol). The sebaceous glands secrete the oil through these ducts into your hair follicles where it helps keep them healthy.
How Can I Remove a Cyst?
There are two ways to remove a cyst: surgery and medication. Surgery is usually done when there is no other treatment available. Medication, however, is used if the problem cannot be treated with surgery or if the symptoms persist after surgical removal. There are several types of medication that a doctor may prescribe.
How Do I Treat an Infected Cyst?
There are a number of different treatments for infected cysts:
Antibiotics are the most common choice for treating an infected cyst and usually provide effective relief within two to three days of treatment.
Corticosteroids are a potent anti-inflammatory medication that are used to treat long-term or recurring cysts.
Epidural steroid injections can also be used to treat long-term or recurring cysts. These are injected into the cyst directly, helping to relieve pain and inflammation.
Surgical removal of the cyst is usually effective in treating the condition and can be used either as a primary treatment or as a secondary treatment for persistent cysts.
Home Remedies for Skin Cysts
There are several do-it-yourself at-home remedies available for treating skin cysts:
Lancing the cyst with a needle and squeezing out the contents. The liquid is then let to dry out on its own after which time the area is cleaned and covered with a bandage to prevent infection. If it is not healing properly, an antibiotic ointment may be applied to prevent infection.
Treating the cyst with duct tape for several days. If the cyst does not pop or reduce in size within three days, see a doctor since this may indicate a more serious infection that needs medical attention.
Applying warm compresses over the cyst several times a day to help drain the cyst and remove trapped fluid. This helps relieve pressure and pain.
Treating the cyst with over-the-counter salicylic acid products. These help to dry out and peel off layers of skin, treating the root cause of the cyst and allowing it to begin healing.
How Can I Prevent Cysts From Forming?
The best way to prevent cysts from forming is to keep your skin and scalp clean and healthy. This includes washing your hair regularly, limiting how often you wash your skin (about twice a day), keeping yourself free of parasites such as scabies or lice, and keeping your fingernails short so as not to damage the skin or catch in the skin.
When Should I See a Doctor?
Skin cysts should always be seen by a doctor to make sure it is not something more serious. There are a few dangerous skin conditions that can cause cysts that need to be differentiated from one another. Also, some of these skin cysts can become infected by bacteria or viruses and may need medical attention as soon as possible. Common signs that you should seek immediate medical attention are:
The cyst is very painful.
The cyst causes fever.
The cyst is accompanied by a rash or discoloration in the area.
The cyst oozes a yellow, green, or brown liquid.
The cyst does not reduce in size or goes through a pulsating motion.
Cellulitis is a skin infection that can occur around the cyst. This is accompanied by redness, swelling, and a hot sensation in the area.
Any of the above signs should be addressed immediately by a doctor or dermatologist since they may require immediate treatment. Skin cysts are benign and non-cancerous, but they can indicate more serious conditions. If left untreated, the consequences can be severe and even life-threatening. If you have any of the above signs or symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
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