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What are cysts, and is cyst removal always needed?

Read time: 4 mins

Cysts are a common skin condition, but what causes them, and do you always need to have your cyst removed?

There are many different types of cysts, and whilst most are harmless, you should always see a GP to get a diagnosis.

We will cover what a cyst is, when you need to get yours removed, and available cyst removal treatments.

What is a cyst?

A cyst is a round, fluid-filled lump just beneath the skin. It’s usually yellow or white, with a small, dark plug where pus can be squeezed out.

They can range in size and may be smaller than a pea or a few centimetres in width. Whilst anyone can develop a cyst, they’re more common in people going through puberty or who have had acne.

Most cysts are harmless, but they can become infected and develop into tender and sore boils or abscesses.

Even if your cyst isn’t causing you any discomfort, it’s important to get it checked out by a doctor to see if you may need cyst removal treatment.

What are the different types of cysts?

There are hundreds of types of cysts, but some are more common than others. These include:

  • Epidermoid cysts. This is one of the main types of cyst. It’s commonly found on the face, neck, chest, shoulders, or around the genitals.
  • Pilar cysts. These run in families and are commonly found on the scalp, as they typically form around hair follicles. However, they may also grow on the face or neck.
  • Milium cysts. Milium cysts, or milia, can happen in any individual, but they’re commonly seen in newborn babies. They’re often found in groups and appear on the nose and cheeks.
  • Chalazion cyst. This type of cyst, also called a meibomian cyst, forms on the eyelid. Most cause no problems and get better on their own, but having a chalazion cyst can be uncomfortable because of its location.

What causes cysts?

Your skin has surface layers of cells that produce keratin, giving your skin its strength and flexibility. Usually, the body sheds these cells as they start to die, but sometimes, they move deeper into the skin and multiply.

This causes a sac to form that fills with the keratin these cells continue to produce. If the cyst bursts, this yellow paste, or pus, can ooze out and lead to an infection.

Removing your cyst: do you need it?

The majority of cysts will clear up on their own. If you have a cyst that’s irritating you or causing you discomfort, holding a warm flannel against your skin will help reduce inflammation and support the healing process.

You may be tempted to burst the cyst, but this will create a breeding ground for bacteria and could cause an infection. If it’s red, painful, and leaking foul-smelling pus, there’s a chance your cyst is already infected, so you should see a GP who may prescribe antibiotics.

If your cyst isn’t bothering you, you should still get it looked at by a doctor to make sure it’s not malignant, but otherwise, you can safely leave it be. The Consultants at our private walk-in clinic in London can assess your cyst and remove it if needed, often on the same or the next day.

However, if it’s causing you pain or discomfort, or if it’s visible and you’d rather be rid of it, cyst removal is an option.

Private cyst removal options

People have their cysts removed for all sorts of reasons. You may have a cyst in a private area that causes you embarrassment. Your cyst might be on your scalp, and you catch it every time you brush your hair. Cysts also grow, so you may prefer to have it removed whilst it’s still small to avoid it getting bigger and causing you more discomfort later on. If you have an infected or malignant cyst, removal is a necessity.

So when it comes to removing your cyst, what are your options?

Cortisone injection

If your cyst is inflamed and painful, it may be treated with a cortisone steroid injection. This is a standard cyst treatment for cysts caused by acne. The injection will cause the cyst to shrink, usually within just a couple of hours and without leaving any bruising, scarring, or bleeding.

However, a steroid injection only causes the cyst to shrink so that it’s not visible, and since cysts grow, it will likely come back.

Draining or removing the cyst

A common method of cyst removal is to cut into the sac and drain the pus inside. When you have this done, you’ll be put under local anaesthetic to numb the area. Then, a tiny cut will be made into the skin, and the cyst gently squeezed.

This is a quick procedure that takes just a few minutes, but the cyst might regrow.

To guarantee that the cyst won’t return, you need to have it removed entirely.

Laser cyst removal

Laser cyst removal might be your best option if previous treatments have failed to stop your cyst from regrowing.

It involves using a carbon dioxide laser to make a small hole, which allows the cyst to drain. Then, at a later date, the cyst wall is removed by making a small incision. This will leave a small scar, but it means your cyst will be completely removed.

This treatment may be prescribed alongside antibiotics if your cyst is infected.

Cysts can be difficult, painful, and embarrassing to live with, but fortunately, cyst removal is a safe, easy, and painless procedure.
Our private dermatology clinic provides a specialist service for cyst assessment and removal at competitive London prices. We have immediate availability and can fit you in for a same-day consultation and removal if appropriate. To learn more or book a consultation, contact us today.

Posted on: 11 January 2024