Cysts are unwanted fluid or semisolid lumps in the body. The commonest type of cyst seen in the skin is an Epidermoid cyst / sebaceous cyst.
These are soft to firm lumps of varying sizes that can be found anywhere in the body but most commonly the face, neck, and trunk. They are filled with a skin protein called Keratin. Keratin has a whitish toothpaste-like appearance that occasionally comes out of the cyst and may be confused with pus. Keratin that is exposed to the atmosphere can also turn black in colour and have a foul smell due to a reaction with atmospheric oxygen called oxidation.
These cysts are not true cysts because they have an opening to the surface of the skin. This opening is called a puncture and can sometimes be seen as a back dot on the surface of the cyst.
Diagnosis of a sebaceous cyst is made most often by clinical examination. However, to confirm the diagnosis a histopathological examination by a pathologist or a biopsy is necessary.
Epidermal cysts or sebaceous cysts often come to the patient’s attention when they grow big or become painful, red and infected. They are generally benign, but they can rarely develop malignancy (cancer).
Sebaceous cysts are often removed by a minor procedure called cyst excision which is performed under local anaesthesia. This procedure is usually done as an outpatient procedure unless the cyst is very large or the infection is severe enough to warrant admission.
Cysts can also be removed if they look unsightly, cause pain or are growing rapidly in size.
These cysts must be differentiated from other types of cysts or other types of solid swellings called tumours. Other common cysts found in the skin are mucocele (mucus retention cyst), pilar cysts, synovial cysts, dermoid cysts, steatocystoma etc. which can also present as soft lumps under the skin.
Rarely malignant cysts can also be present which require more aggressive treatment like wide excision, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
To know more about skin cysts, visit a dermatologist near you.
Disclaimer: This website (www.charmaclinic.com) aims to spread awareness about skin, hair, nail problems and their relevant treatments. The information shared here is generic in nature and can not replace the advice/ prescription of a qualified medical professional. Every individual may have different skin, hair, nail concerns and must be treated accordingly. Hence, medications or treatments mentioned on the website shall not be consumed/ utilized unless prescribed by a certified medical professional.