Cysts are round fluid-filled swellings beneath the skin, which sometimes have a black or white/yellow ‘head’.
There are many different types of cysts which can affect different areas of the body but, generally speaking, they’re caused by a build-up of keratin (a type of protein produced within the skin that’s usually shed via the skin’s surface) which gets trapped and forms a sac. This sac then fills with more keratin, which develops into a thick white or yellow pus.
Skin cysts are mostly harmless and sometimes go away on their own. Plus, small cysts that cause no bother can often just be left alone.
However, cysts can be treated if they’re causing problems. They may become inflamed and infected, or cause irritation and discomfort due to their size and location. Like all skin conditions, cysts can also affect a person’s appearance and self-confidence and you may wish to have them treated for cosmetic reasons.
If cysts are affecting you, there are a number of options available for removing them, depending on the location and nature of the cyst. It’s important to remember that cysts aren’t the same as a regular spot or pimple, so attempting to ‘pop’ them yourself isn’t advisable and could risk them becoming infected. While it’s possible to drain cysts, sometimes the best way to prevent them from recurring is to remove the entire sac from beneath the skin. This involves a minor surgical procedure, where the dermatologist will use a scalpel to make small incisions around the site of the cyst before carefully removing it. The skin will then be stitched closed. It might be possible to remove smaller cysts by making a tiny single incision and extracting the cyst.
If an incision is made, there will be a small scar but this should fade in time. Cysts can also sometimes grow back but many people experience positive long-term results after having them removed.