skip to Main Content

What Causes Skin Cysts? And How To Treat Them

  • Private GP Services
  • Medically Reviewed By: Dr Farzad Entikabi MB BS MSc MRCS(Eng) MRCGP DFSRH
skin cyst Dermatology Dermatologist London

What is a Skin Cyst?

A cyst is a round, dome-shaped lump under the skin, that is filled with fluid or a semi-solid material. A cyst is usually smooth, and, in some cases, they may move around slightly when pressure is applied to them on the overlying skin.

Skin cysts may disappear on their own, however, this is rare, and it is often the case that medical intervention is required. In this blog we will look at some of the common types of skin cysts, find out what causes them and explore how to treat them.

3 Common Types of Skin Cysts

  • Epidermoid Cyst – is a common type of skin cyst, that can be found on any part of the body, however, is usually found on the face, around the neck, chest, back and shoulders or around the genitals.
  • Pilar Cysts – form around hair follicles and are often found on the scalp.
  • Milium Cysts – or milia as they are commonly known, appear as small white bumps and can often be mistaken for acne. They usually appear on the face, especially around the eyes.

What are the Causes?

A cyst can form for a several reasons, but it is usually due to a buildup keratin under the skin.

Keratin is a protein that helps form the tissues of the hair, nails, and the outer layer of the skin. When skin cells die (which is completely normal) they usually move up to the surface of the skin to be shed. When these cells remain deeper in the skin instead, they can multiply and form a sac. Keratin is secreted into the middle of the sac, which will eventually form a cyst.

You may be more prone to having cysts if you have a family history of skin cysts, been through puberty, you have a history of acne, or if you have irritation or injury of the skin or the most superficial portion of a hair follicles.

Pilar cysts are more common in females, whereas epidermoid cysts are more common in men.

Skin cysts are benign, common skin lesions and generally nothing to worry about. However, they tend to grow over time becoming cosmetically unsightly or can cause discomfort depending on the location on the body.

They can also omit an offensive smell and occasionally become infected leading to the formation of an abscess (a collection of pus in the cyst sac).

Pilar cysts are significantly more common in females and can be caused by a genetic condition.

How to Treat them

You should never try to ‘pop’ a cyst as it can become inflamed or infected. It is also likely to come back as the sac is left under the skin.

While cysts are generally harmless, they can be irritating in certain areas, and you may dislike how they look.

Minor skin surgery – is generally the only method of definitively removing a cyst and trying to prevent it from recurring.

The area of skin around the cyst is treated with a local anaesthetic, then a slight incision is made, and the cyst is extracted before the skin is closed with stitches.

If your cyst is having a negative effect on your daily life and self-confidence you may consider having it removed.

Cyst Removal

At Prime Health Partners our expert clinician Dr Farzad Entikabi has extensive experience in performing minor skin surgery with a gentle touch and great cosmetic outcomes.

Your first step is a consultation where he will assess your condition and determine the most appropriate form of treatment

If you would like to have a cyst removed or if you have any concerns about a cyst, get in touch today and one of our friendly, expert team will be happy to help.

Back To Top