A common cyst is a skin condition that can cause unsightly bumps on the skin anywhere on the body. If you have a cyst in a visible area, such as the face, hands, legs, or arms, you might experience embarrassment or social anxiety. Fortunately, there are a variety of things you can do to prevent and treat your cysts so that you feel free and confident in your own skin.
A cyst is an abnormal closed sac filled with liquid, semisolid, or gaseous substances. They are distinguished from a pimple, which is a skin abscess containing pus. There are three types of common cysts that can occur on the skin: epidermal, trichilemmal, and milia.
The epidermal cyst is the most common benign skin tumor and can arise when a hair follicle is clogged, such as in severe acne. The epidermis is the top layer of skin. At times a lump or bump may form underneath the skin. This epidermal cyst is typically about the size of a pea – small, round, and smooth on the skin. It is usually nothing to worry about. Occasionally it can become inflamed or infected and then become red and potentially painful. With time, most cysts disappear on their own. However you may want to accelerate its disappearance through some simple treatments.
To avoid infection of the cyst, there are a few things you can do. First, keep the area clean and wash it daily with antibacterial soap. Second, apply a hot water bottle or wet washcloth over the cyst 3-4 times a day. This can quicken the healing of the cyst. However, If you have cystic acne, you will find that cold compresses are more effective in providing relief from discomfort and pain. You will want to steer clear of shaving around the cyst, as this can introduce bacteria and increase the chances of causing an infection. To guard against infection, you can apply an antiseptic solution like tea tree oil or an antibiotic cream.
If your cyst is caused by an ingrown hair, check to see if any of the hair is lying above the skin. If so, use a pair of clean tweezers to remove the hair. This may hasten the healing of the cyst. Do not try to dig the hair out if none of it is above the skin. A warm compress might help bring the hair to the surface.
Never squeeze, pick at, or open your cyst. In so doing, you may push any infection deeper within the body or open the cyst sac to bacteria and infection. It can also increase the chances of scarring on the skin. Abstaining from squeezing or picking at your cystic acne can help reduce acne scars.
If a cyst is infected, a hot compress will also help bring the lump to a head. If the cyst begins to drain, keep it covered with a bandage. Be observant regarding any drainage that is coming from your cyst. If it becomes a large amount of pus or includes blood, or if the area becomes warm and tender, you should seek medical attention.
If your cyst is large, growing, painful or infected, see your dermatologist, who can easily drain the cyst or remove it through minor surgery or laser removal. To get in touch with a dermatologist, contact Vanguard Dermatology in the greater New York City area. The dermatologists at Vanguard can work with you to determine the best course of treatment for your cyst.