A cyst is a harmless sac-like growth in the deeper layers of the skin, which is filled with a soft, whitish brown material that sometimes oozes onto the skin surface.
We do not know why types of cysts appear, nor do we know why some persons get many of them. Often we are born with cysts under the skin.
People who smoke are more prone to the development of large types of cysts Cysts are also more likely to become infected in smokers.
Sometimes, people who have multiple cysts have a family history of this problem.
As a person gets older, sometimes a cyst which was present since birth suddenly gets larger. When this happens, bacteria often get into the cyst and an infection occurs which can resemble a boil.
Small cysts generally do not need treatment, unless they bother you. However larger cysts are usually removed because of their size. Insurance covers the cost of these procedures.
If a sebaceous cyst becomes infected, an antibiotic taken by mouth and minor surgery done in the office may be needed to relieve the pressure and discomfort. This is done by making a small opening into the skin and draining the cyst. Sebaceous cysts often recur after this type of surgery because the sac or wall is left behind.
To remove a sebaceous cyst completely, it has to be excised (cut out) in order to remove the sac or cyst wall. A local anesthetic is used to numb the skin. Stitches are used to close the skin opening and are removed 3-4 days after the surgery.
Excision will usually cure a cyst, however, sometimes a cyst will come back and require a second surgery.
42 year old female with an infected left cheek skin cyst that required surgical drainage. Once the cyst gets infected, you should really consider getting it removed because it usually tends to become a recurrent problem.
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