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Cysts - Types and Treatments

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Epidermal cyst

Epidermal cyst

Overview of Cysts

There are numerous types of cysts, which usually appear as a bump just under your skin. However, some cysts grow inside your body where you do not feel them. Cysts typically grow slowly, and they have a smooth surface. Most cysts are not painful, and they are not cancerous.

The cyst is a sac-like pocket of membranous tissue containing air, fluid or another substance.

Most cysts do not cause problems, unless they are:

  • Infected
  • Very large
  • Growing in a sensitive are
  • Impinging on a nerve or blood vessel
  • Affecting the function of an organ

Cyst Causes

Cysts and pseudocysts are formed for different reasons. They can be caused due to:

  1. Genetics or inherited diseases
  2. Infections
  3. Chronic inflammation
  4. Blockage in ducts

Types of Cysts

The Epidermal cyst is slow growing, benign and a small cyst that grows on the head, face, back, neck or genitals. The cyst is a keratin growth just under the skin that may be very small or inches across. They are filled with white keratin debris.

They are not cancerous and usually cause to pain. It may be treated using the RICE method, which includes:

  • Resting the knee when possible
  • Using ice on the knee
  • Compression wraps on the knee to reduce swelling
  • Elevate the leg when resting

There are other nonsurgical treatments available the include:

  • It may be a tan, skin-colored yellowish bump that is filled with thick material
  • It can become red, swollen or painful if it becomes infected or inflamed
  • Typically painless and not requiring treatment

If the cyst does become infected, the pus will be drained, and it will heal over one or two weeks.

Sebaceous cysts are found on the neck, face or torso, and they originate from your sebaceous glands. These glands are located throughout the body, particularly where there is hair, but a few are located on your hands and feet. They are usually harmless.

Pilar cysts are flesh-colored and form from a hair follicle. They are sometimes called a wen, and they are benign.

Sebaceous Cyst Excision Video

A Pilonidal cyst forms at the bottom of the tailbone. It is fairly common and occurs after puberty. It is thought to be a result of changing hormones, hair growth and the friction from clothes. Spending a great deal of time sitting is also a possible cause. It can become infected as it has a small hole filled with fluid or pus.

The signs of an infection include:

  • Redness, pain and swelling
  • Pus or blood draining from the abscess, which may have a foul odor
  • Tender to touch
  • Fever
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The doctor usually performs an incision and drainage, which means the doctor makes a small incision into the cyst and drains it. They remove any hair follicles, but they leave the wound open and pack it with gauze. Then, you have to change the cause as needed. It takes approximately three weeks to heal.

A Branchial Cleft cyst is a birth defect. A lump develops on one or both sides of the child’s neck or below the collarbone. Most of the time this is not dangerous, but it can cause irritation of the skin or rarely an infection. It can drain some fluid. They are sometimes in the sinus tract. If they do get infected they are treated with antibiotics.

A Mucous cyst is typically small, and it is a pink or blue color. These are usually caused by trauma to the oral cavity, such as biting the lip, a piercing or a salivary gland disruption. Salivary glands can become plugged with mucus, also. It is good to see a physician to rule out a more serious cause. Treatments include:

  1. Laser treatment that uses a directed light beam to remove the cyst
  2. Cryotherapy removes the cyst by freezing the tissue
  3. Intralesional corticosteroid injection reduces the inflammation
Mucous Cyst

Mucous Cyst

The Baker’s cyst is usually the result of an underlying knee injury or condition like arthritis, and it is inflammed to protect your knee from further damage. Aspiration of the inflammation that happens behind the knee does not cure the problem. Healing the underlying knee injury is the only way to get rid of this cyst.

The Baker cyst causes mild to severe pain, a tightness and it may limit your walking.

  • Take an anti-inflammatory medication (ibuprofen, etc.)
  • Keep a healthy body weight as this puts less pressure on the joint
  • Avoid any activity that puts strain on the knee
  • Use a cane or crutch when walking
  • Physical therapy ordered by your physician
  • In severe cases surgery may be necessary
Baker cyst MRI

Baker cyst MRI

An Ovarian cyst is sometimes found with a pelvic exam, and they may be solid or fluid filled. These cysts are very common during pregnancy and will occur before menopause. They are not usually painful, and they tend to go away without treatment. They may be part of a monthly menstrual cycle, and you may not even know.

If one does become infected, treatment will be necessary. The symptoms of this infection include:

  • Sudden and severe belly pain
  • Pain, fever and vomiting
  • Dizziness, weakness and feeling faint
  • Shortness of breath

For a small cyst a laparoscopy will be done, and an abdominal surgery will be required for a large cyst.

Ovarian Cyst Symptoms and Exactly What Can Be Done

Final Thoughts

Even your cats and dogs get sebaceous cysts. There are a hundred types of cysts that people can have. The ones in this article are some of the more common ones. The good news is they rarely lead to cancer. Most of them tend to be harmless, except for the Baker cyst and sometimes the ovarian cyst.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Pamela Oglesby


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 19, 2021:

Hi Patricia,

The cyst is so strange when it comes back so many years later. Are you going to hav it removed again?

I am happy to hear from you again. I hope all is well with you. Thank you for your comments. I hope you have a great weekend!

Sending angels back your way too.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on June 19, 2021:

Good morning, Pam...I was aware of some of these cysts but you mentioned several I was not aware of. Your articles are always thorough and I appreciate that. I had a ganglion cyst on my wrist when I was 25 (years ago ) and it was removed. Now all these years later it has come back to haunt me as my doctor had said it might. Take care of you-- Angels are headed your way this

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 19, 2021:

Hi Brenda,

I am glad you found this article informative. Ovarian cysts are fairly common.

Thanks so much for your comments.

Take care and enjoy the day!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on June 18, 2021:

Great job Pamela.

Ovarian cysts I am familiar with...not so much the others

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 18, 2021:

Hi Rachel,

I appreciate your comments.


Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on June 18, 2021:

Thank you also for your information on cysts. Also important.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 12, 2021:

Hi Fran,

I knew there were several kinds of cysts, but I didn't know there were so many before I did my research. I certainly agree that we must be alert to our bodies.

I am glad you liked the article, and your comments are much appreciated. I hope you have a great weekend.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 12, 2021:

Hi Flourish,

That is a sad tale about your cat. I think you are right about getting a lump checked.

I agree about the video, and I didn't know if many would watch it. I felt it was informative as that is what happens if you have to have a cyst removed. Thanks you for your generous comments.

I hope you have a good weekend.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on June 12, 2021:

Pamela, great article. I had no idea there were so many different types of cysts. We all need to be alert about our own bodies. Thanks for your article.

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 12, 2021:

I accidentally pressed submit before I was ready. Meant to tell you what a good article this was and how queasy that video was!

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 12, 2021:

I would encourage anyone to have their doctor or vet check out a suspicious lump even if they suspect that they "know" are cysts. One of my cats had large lumps that we thought were cysts and it turned out to be fibrosarcoma. He had a total of three surgeries because they kept growing back. He was very brave but eventually, we decided it wasn't a fight he was going to win.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 12, 2021:

Hi Cheryl,

I hope this cyst goes away. The ones on your wrist are more common since they went away without treatment. Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope you have a good weekend.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on June 11, 2021:

I have a ganglion cyst on my elbow. Thsi one has been around a while but others on my wrist went away on their own

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2021:

Hi Adrienne,

I thought the pictures would be helpful in identifying cysts. I am glad you liked the information.

I appreciate your comments. Have a great weekend.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2021:

Hi Misbah,

I imagine any bump under a finger nail would hurt sometimes. Since the ointment didn't work, your dermatologist sounds good.

I am glad you found this article informative. I hope you stay happy and healthy as well. Thank you so much for your nice comments.

Blessings.and Love

Adrienne Farricelli on June 11, 2021:

Great information about cysts and it's nice to see pictures since so many skin issues look alike. Good to hear that cysts rarely lead to cancer.

Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on June 11, 2021:

Pamela, this is an informative and helpful article about different types of cysts. You have also mentioned the treatments that are very helpful. My cousin suffered an ovarian cyst about a few years ago. Now she is alright.

I have one yellowish bump on my finger under the nail, it hurts me sometimes. I don't know if it can be a cyst. I will visit a dermatologist but in these Covid times, I actually avoid visiting doctors in the clinics and in the hospitals as well. A pharmacist told me the skin is getting atopic. I have used the ointment he recommended but It didn't help me.

Thank you for this informative article. Stay happy and healthy.

Blessings and Love

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2021:

Hi Devika,

You summed up exactly what I try to do. I can't work anymore as a nurse, but I can write about health problems.

I am glad you find these articles informative. I always appreciate your nice comments, Devika.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 11, 2021:

Pamela There are so many cysts so we need to be aware of this health problem. Hubs such as yours are informative and teaches us to know more about these issues. You improved my knowledge about cysts.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2021:

Hi Peace,

I didn't realize there were 100 types of cysts before I did the research either. I am glad you found this article informative. It is good to be aware of any medical problem.

Thank you so much for your comments. I hope you also have a great weekend.

Peace Tobe Dike from Delta State, Nigeria. on June 11, 2021:

This is a very informative article, cysts are quite common and I didn't realise they were so many types... now I know more about it....thank you for sharing. And have a great weekend.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2021:

Hi Sp,

I didn't realize there are actually 100 types of cysts until I started doing research. I am glad you found this article informative.

Thank you so much for your comments. I hope you have a good weekend.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on June 11, 2021:

There is so much information here on the different types of cysts that there are. I didn't even know that that many cysts existed. Very useful information for us all.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2021:

Hi Rosina,

Yes, most cysts are harmless, but if you have a cyst that starts swelling or is painful, you should see a doctor.

I am glad you liked this article and I appreciate your comments. Stay safe and healthy!

Love and blessings.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2021:

Hi Mike,

That is an story! I think you make such a good point, as we need to pay attention to our bodies. Swelling and pain is sure clue to get medical attention. I am sorry you went through such a horrible time, but I am glad to hear you did recover okay.

I appreciate your generous comments. I wish you the best health in the future.

Rosina S Khan on June 11, 2021:

This article explains common cyst types and their treatments, which is helpful and informative. I am glad to know, however, that most cysts are harmless. Thank you for sharing another wonderful article in medical science, Pamela.

Readmikenow on June 11, 2021:

This is a good article.

In late January of this year I went backpacking and thought nothing about it. I was out in the snow with a backpack for five days. When I got back home, I leaned against a chair and felt a lump on my back. I told my wife to put some alcohol on it, I'll take some acetaminophen for the pain and all will be well.

I had a cyst on my back that had gotten infected. Within a few days, it had grown quite a bit. I had chills so bad I could stop shaking. The infection was quickly spreading.

I felt awful and went to the hospital. They had to cut out the cyst and drain the infection. Tests showed I had a rare infection and only one type of antibiotic was effective against it.

After two months of dealing with a huge infection, four different antibiotics, having my infected cyst removed, the infection drained, packing and unpacking my wound, I was okay.

I learned a cyst is nothing to ignore if it changes. I believe having a fully loaded pack on my back for those many days in the woods probably caused a cut and an infection occurred on my back.

If anyone even suspects they have cyst that is infected, trust me, immediately go to see a physician.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2021:

Hi Linda,

Your experience is typical, and that is good. They do look horrible. I didn't know if anyone would want to look at sa cyst being removed, but that is the topic of this article.

I appreciate your comments. I hope life is treating you well. Take care and have a nice weekend.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on June 11, 2021:

Oh gracious, those look horrible! My husband had a ganglion cyst on his left wrist, and I had one on a finger on my right hand. Both of them went away without treatment after several years. Thanks for the informative article.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2021:

Hi Chitrangada,

I am glad you found this article informative. Most cysts go away on there own and are not painful.

I appreciate your generous comments.


Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 11, 2021:

An informative article about various types of cysts! I have heard about some of them, and they seem to be quite common! I understand that they are harmless, as long as they are banign, with no infection!

Thank you for sharing another wonderful article!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2021:

Hi Olusegun,

I am glad you liked the article. Thank you for reading and commenting.

OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on June 11, 2021:

Great summation. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2021:

Hi Rawan,

I am glad you found the article informative. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Rawan Osama from Egypt on June 11, 2021:

Useful and informative article!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2021:

Hi Bill,

You may be the healthiest man I know. Cysts are very common, but that is one thing I haven't had either.

A medical encyclopedia? I am just a retired nurse who does some research. However, I certainly appreciate your comments.

Happy Friday to you also.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2021:

Hi MG Singh,

I am glad you found the article informative. I appreciate your comments.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 11, 2021:

You are like having a medical encyclopedia on call. Great information from one who knows of which she speaks. And no, I haven't had one of those, either, knock on wood.

Happy Friday my friend!

MG Singh emge from Singapore on June 11, 2021:

This is an article that is interesting and knowledgeable. Certainly added to my knowledge. Thank you.

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