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Scared of cysts?

Why you shouldn’t be


By Dr. Kaycee Reyes


Worried sick about a lump on your skin? Not so fast. Cysts are round mounted lesions that are usually harmless, non-cancerous, and may contain fluid or a semi-solid substance. Not all cysts mean trouble, yet they should be paid attention to especially if it causes discomfort. This week, let us find out the different types of cysts, how it develops, and the treatments available.

Cysts are common, contrary to what some believe. Most types of cysts are found in more men than women. It may appear at any stage of life, and may be present to individuals regardless of race or skin color. The causes of cysts, however, may vary far and wide, like sweat buildup, sebum blockage, developmental error, and some are still unknown.


  1. Epidermoid cysts – also called epidermal cyst and keratin cyst, these types of cysts usually appear on the neck, face, trunk, or anywhere where there are a few hairs. This may occur when there is acne, and grows with time. This cyst is the same as the color of the skin, firm, and contains semi-solid substance made of keratin, the substance responsible for producing the body’s outer skin layer and the hair. It also has a small opening in the middle. This type of cyst is not cancerous, contagious, nor hereditary.
  2. Pilar cysts – similar to epidermoid cysts, this type of cyst also contains keratin. Most of pilar cysts appear on the scalp, and for a few cases, on the neck, trunk, face, or genital area. More than 50 percent of these cysts occur with more than one lump. This is more apparent in women than men. Pilar cysts are also called trichilemmal cysts. Like epidermoid cysts, these grow with time as well. They are also not cancerous nor contagious, but hereditary.
  3. Dermoid cyst – this type of cyst, also called teratomas, appears on the face, scalp, or neck, and sometimes around the eyelid, brow, forehead, or scalp. They can be made of teeth, hair, or skin structures, and may start to develop in the womb and manifest later on into adulthood. Dermoid cysts vary—some may feel tender, and others are hard. This type of cyst is also benign.
  4. Ganglion cyst – also called synovial cyst, this type is a smooth and tender cyst that contains semi-solid substance called synovial fluid. This usually appears near a tendon, such as on the wrists or hands. These may go away on its own and may reappear, or go away entirely. It may sometimes also be painful, especially when it sits beside or near a nerve ending. This type is also non-cancerous.
  5. Mucous cyst – these cysts appear on the lips. It is caused by blockage of salivary ducts, which may be brought about through biting of the lips. These are usually painless and harmless.
  6. Hydrocystoma – these appear on the eyelid. It is called apocrine hidrocystoma if only one, and eccrine hidrocystoma for multiple cysts. It is clear and liquid-filled cysts that are caused by the sweat glands. These are rare, but usually occur among females. It is non-cancerous, but its appearance may look like more serious skin conditions, so it is important to have it checked.
  7. Milia – these are small, white, multiple, round-shaped bumps on the skin that contain keratin. They may appear on the nose, eyelids, and cheeks of individuals at any age, from babies to adults. Primary milia forms when keratin is blocked; secondary milia may occur after a skin injury or trauma.
  8. Comedones – these are also called pseudocysts that are common among those with acne. This occurs when keratin, bacteria, and oil is trapped on the skin. These are also called blackheads for closed comedones, and whiteheads for open ones. Comedones may also arise from smoking and sun exposure, which are called solar comedones.

Treatment for cysts also varies, depending on the type. Sometimes, excision or surgical removal may be performed, other times, treatment is not needed. For cysts that are sore or inflamed, the doctor may also provide oral antibiotics, inject the cyst, or remove the contents of the cyst. Other times, the doctor may perform a biopsy to rule out more serious skin conditions.

 If you see or feel lumps and bumps on your skin, don’t panic; but do not ignore them either. Visit your dermatologist and have it checked right away. It is understandable that some might be afraid to have them checked, but remember that the earlier you know, the better for your peace of mind.

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