Cysts that develop under the skin do not typically warrant urgent treatment. Most patients realize they have a cyst when they see or feel a small pea-sized lump just beneath the skin surface. Skin cysts are usually diagnosed as either epidermoid cysts or pillar cysts. While a physician can look at the cells of the cyst and determine the exact type, there are some generalizations about each type of skin cyst that can tell you which one you may have.
Epidermoid cysts form from cells that are typically from the skin surface. They are common in young and middle-aged adults. You may find an epidermoid cyst on the face, neck, chest, upper back or genitals. Pilar cysts, however, form from cells that normally grow hair. They are frequently found on the scalp and affect middle-aged women the most.
Both pilar cysts and epidermoid cysts are tiny sacs filled with soggy keratin, a substance that appears much like toothpaste. They can occur when the cells that are normally at the surface of the skin get pushed down deeper into the skin layers. This typically occurs when the skin is injured. Here these cells multiply like they would at the skin surface, causing a sac of keratin to form. While genetics can play a large role in the formation of skin cysts, injury or trauma is a leading culprit.
Most skin cysts are harmless and asymptomatic, but not all cysts can be left alone. Reasons that a skin cyst may need removal include the following:
- Cosmetic Reasons – If your cyst is on your face or another visible part of the body, you may want to remove it to restore your self-confidence.
- Infection – If you notice that your cyst is irritated, red or swollen, you may have an infected cyst that needs treatment.
- Pain/Discomfort – It is possible that the position of your skin cyst causes discomfort. For example, if you have a pilar cyst on your scalp, you may find that your hairbrush catches it when you brush and causes pain.
At Olansky Dermatology Associates, we have skilled dermatologists that are highly qualified to diagnose and remove your skin cyst. We provide treatments such as cyst draining as well as surgical removal. Schedule an appointment with us today to determine if your skin cyst needs attention.