Cysts are small painless bumps often found beneath the skin. They can develop in many parts of the body including the hair follicles. Cysts form for some reasons, but sometimes they appear for unknown reasons.
If you're wondering 'do cysts go away on their own', the good news is that in most cases, skin cysts don't require treatment. They remain painless giving you no reason to worry. However, if they get sore or become infected, you need to seek medical attention. If a cyst bothers or embarrasses you, talk to your doctor about it. Your doctor will examine your skin looking for signs and symptoms of a serious health concern.
Causes of cysts
Many things can cause cysts, including:
- Wear and tear obstructions to the flow of body fluids
- Chronic inflammation
- Generic conditions
- Defects in developing an embryo
Types of cysts
There are various types of cysts, including:
- Acne cysts: Acne is a common type of cyst which blocks the pore of the skin. It may result in inflammation and infection.
- Arachnoid cysts: Normally, the arachnoid membrane encloses the brain. However, as a fetus develops, the membrane may split forming unusual cerebrospinal fluid pockets. In severe cases, a doctor may need to remove the cyst. They may affect young babies.
- Baker's cysts: If you develop a baker's cyst, you will most likely experience a bulge behind your knee. The pain may worsen as you extend your knee during intensive physical exercise. Usually, a knee joint complication such as cartilage tear causes these cysts.
- Bartholin's cysts: If your vagina's Bartholin's glands get blocked, it may cause Bartholin's cysts. For treatment, you may need to take certain antibiotics or undergo surgery.
- Breast cysts: They are typically painful. You urgently need to visit a doctor to drain the cysts. Breast cysts may be a symptom of breast cancer.
- Chalazion cysts: There are tiny eyelid glands, meibomian glands, in everyone's eyes. They produce a distinct lubricant through small openings at the edge of the eyelids. If the ducts get blocked, it causes chalazion cysts.
- Epididymal cysts: Spermatocele is common in vessels found in a person's testes. Recent studies reveal epididymal cysts affect about 40% of adult American males; nevertheless, they neither cause infertility nor need any treatment. If you experience some discomfort, it's wise to consult a doctor immediately.
- Ovarian cysts: Most ovarian cysts aren't harmful. However, some can enlarge to the extent of making you look pregnant. During your reproductive years, it's common to develop cysts that are up to 5 cm long. Approximately, 18% of all women develop a tumor or an ovarian cyst at least once during their lifetime. A small percentage of these women develop ovarian cancer.
- Pancreatic cysts: Physicians don't regard pancreatic cysts as normal cysts. Instead, they refer to them as pseudocysts because they lack particular cells present in normal cysts. Such cells include those found in various body organs including the intestines and the stomach.
- Periapical or radicular cysts: These are a common odontogenic cyst that affects the proper development and formation of a person's teeth. Some of their causes include dental caries, pulp death, and inflammation.
- Renal cysts: You may develop several cysts in your kidneys. Solitary cysts usually contain particular fluids including blood. Some renal cysts may occur at birth while others are due to tubular blockages. Moreover, people with kidney vascular abnormalities may have renal cysts due to the dilation of their blood vessels.
- Sebaceous cysts: Every person's skin has a sebaceous fluid that lubricates it. It can accumulate in a hair follicle or a pore thereby creating a lump with a greasy material. Sebaceous cysts usually are found on the back, face, scrotum, and scalp.
- Vocal fold cysts: There are two main categories of vocal fold cysts; epidermoid cysts and mucus retention cysts. They often interfere with your ability to speak. Also, sometimes, they cause your vocal cords to produce multiple tones simultaneously.
Symptoms of cysts
Most cysts are harmless. Some produce various symptoms based on their location and size. For instance, ovarian cysts may cause fullness, irregular menstrual flow, and severe pelvic pain. Breast cysts often cause breast lumps.
In most scenarios, you will notice an abnormal lump beneath the skin. However, most internal cysts including those in the liver and kidney don't have distinct symptoms. You might fail to notice them until you undergo a CAT scan or an MRI scan.
Diagnosis of cysts
Often, doctors diagnose cysts after performing a standard physical examination. If a cyst is abnormal, the doctor may require performing extra tests to ascertain that it isn't a form of cancer. Also, such tests are vital when performing surgical operations to remove the cysts. Some standard tests that physicians apply in diagnosing cysts include:
- CT scans: They enable the doctor to determine the best route to follow when removing a cyst through an operation.
- Ultrasounds: They are useful in determining what a cyst comprises.
- Punch biopsy: It entails removing some tissue in the cyst and examining it in a laboratory to diagnose cancer.
When treating a cyst, a doctor considers several factors such as its type, location, and size. They can surgically remove a large cyst which produces distinct symptoms. At times, the doctor might opt to drain the cyst by inserting a catheter into its cavity. If they are unable to access it, they may use aspiration while analyzing radiological images to precisely guide a catheter to the target organ.
Also, doctors analyze aspirated fluids under a microscope to ascertain the presence of cancerous cells. If they suspect that a cyst might be cancerous, they may remove it through surgery or conduct a biopsy of the cyst's wall.
Most cysts are due to chronic medical conditions such as fibrocystic breast infection. However, there are various reasons why a cyst may occur. Some occur without any apparent cause. Also, cysts are more popular in men than in women. If you have an embarrassing cyst, inform your doctor. They will use a suitable treatment option.
When to see your doctor
Once you notice a cyst, it's prudent to avoid popping it as this may lead to infection. Instead, clean it thoroughly with warm soapy water. Place a washcloth on it for about thirty minutes, four times per days. It may hasten the healing process. However, if it doesn't improve, contact your doctor to treat the cyst.
Most cysts are harmless and don’t need treatment. However, if you notice growth or feel pain, see your doctor.