There are hundreds of types of cysts, and most of them are small and benign. They therefore usually do not need treatment, much less surgical removal.
What is a cyst?
A cyst is a small and closed sac that forms within a tissue. It has a distinct wall or membrane, and it is filled with a gas, liquid, or semi-solid. Although the word “cyst” can sometimes be applied to normal bag-like structures within the body, it is more usually applied to abnormal formations.
Just as there are many types of cysts, there are many causes of cyst formation. Known causes of cyst formation include parasites, tumors, genetic conditions, injuries, chronic conditions, and duct blockages. Cysts are usually small, but some can be large enough to displace internal organs.
Is there a difference between a cyst and an abscess?
Yes. Both are lumps that can occur anywhere on the body, but an abscess is caused by a bacterial infection, and it is always filled with pus. A cyst can be filled with fluid, and it can become an abscess if bacteria infect it. Abscesses are usually painful while cysts are not. Abscesses nearly always require treatment of some sort, and abscesses that form on internal organs nearly always have to be surgically removed.
When are cysts a problem?
While most cysts are harmless and don’t require treatment, there are exceptions, and they include the following:
- Cysts caused by or associated with cancer: Ovarian and kidney cancers often produce lots of cysts. In other conditions, a tumor’s cells will produce a liquid that gets blocked within the tumor, and a cyst develops within the tumor which makes it bigger.
- Cysts that are pressing on a vital organ: This is most likely to happen with the brain or kidneys. There is simply no room in the skull for even a single cyst, so a cyst that forms in the brain is going to cause problems. A condition called polycystic kidney disease is characterized by clusters of cysts growing within the kidneys. It can eventually cause kidney failure.
Whether or not a cyst needs to be removed will depend on where it is, how big it is, what caused it, and if it is causing the patient any pain or discomfort. A cyst that has become infected or is in a place where it can easily get hurt or irritated should be removed or treated. For example, a cyst on the scalp can become irritated by repeated brushing or combing.
At Rao Dermatology, our medical providers can assess your cyst and determine the most appropriate course of treatment based on your individual condition. We’ll work with you to ensure you get safe and effective treatment. Contact Rao Dermatology today to schedule your consultation.