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A cyst is a sac-like capsule that looks like blisters. Cysts vary in size, from small to very large. The majority of cysts are benign, but some cysts may be cancerous or precancerous. If the cyst is filled with pus, it can become infected and turn into an abscess.

A cyst is not a part of the tissue where it is located. It has a distinct membrane and is separated from the surrounding tissue. The outside of the cyst is called the cyst wall.

Types of Cysts

The type of cyst varies greatly depending on the type and location.

1. Epidermoid Cysts

Epidermoid cysts are small, slow-growing, benign cysts. Most often, it grows on the face, head, neck, back, or genitals. It is usually caused by a buildup of keratin under the surface of the skin. Epidermoid cysts appear as thick brown or yellowish lumps that may swell and turn red if infected.

2. Breast cysts 

Breast cysts are mostly non-cancerous, but there are many factors that cause breast cysts. Women should be aware of their breast shape and see a doctor if they notice any lumps in their breasts. 

3. Pilonidal cysts

A pilonidal cyst forms in the cleft between the buttocks. It may be caused by hair growth, hormonal changes, frictions from clothes, and sitting for too long. It consists of a small hole in the skin that may become infected and filled with fluid or pus.

4. Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that grow and develop on one or both ovaries. Symptoms of ovarian cysts may include flatulence, abdominal swelling, pain during bowel movements, pain in the pelvis before or during the menstrual cycle, pain during sexual intercourse, pain in the lower back or thighs, breast pain, nausea, and vomiting.

5. Chalazion

A chalazion is a small, usually painless cyst in the upper or lower eyelid. This is caused by a blockage in the oil glands. Symptoms may include redness, swelling and pain if infected.

There are many other types of cysts. Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of a cyst for proper treatment.

Causes of Cysts

Cysts may occur anywhere in body parts. Cysts may develop due to infection, blocked sebaceous glands, or piercings. Some of the most common causes of cysts are:

  • Tumor.
  • Parasites.
  • Cell defects.
  • Genetic conditions.
  • Chronic inflammation.
  • An injury that breaks a vessel
  • Faults in an organ of a developing embryo
  • Blockages of ducts in the body that cause fluid-build up

In most cases, a cyst causes no pain —  unless it bursts, becomes infected, or is inflamed.

When to See a Doctor For Cysts?

To diagnose a cyst, your doctor must know about your signs and symptoms as they may vary depending on the type of the cyst. Usually, you may notice an unusual lump, particularly when the cyst develops right beneath the skin.

Many internal cysts, such as those in the kidneys or liver, may not cause symptoms at all. The cyst may go unnoticed until your doctor performs imaging scans, such as an MRI, CT, or ultrasound scan to detect them.

If a cyst grows and develops in the brain, you are at risk of experiencing headaches and other symptoms. Breast cysts can also cause pain.

Symptoms of Cysts

A cyst may feel like a small lump when it grows beneath your skin. Some cysts may grow deep inside your body where you cannot feel them.

However, cysts may cause other symptoms. For example, ovarian cysts caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may lead to problems with the ovarian reproductive system. Polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which causes cysts to form in the kidneys, has a negative impact on the kidney’s function.

Cysts are usually slow-growing and painless and have a smooth surface, unless they are: 

  • Infected 
  • Developed in sensitive areas 
  • Very large-sized 
  • Affecting the organ’s function
  • Impinging on a nerve or blood vessel 

Treatment for Cysts

Treatment options for cysts depend on the type, location, size, and severity. For large cysts that cause symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgical removal of the cyst.

Sometimes, your doctor may remove or suck out the fluid in the cyst by inserting a needle or catheter into the cavity. If the location of the cyst is difficult to reach, your doctor may use radiology to accurately localize the needle tip. 

Your doctor can check the fluid in the cyst to determine to see any cancer cells. If your doctor suspects a cancerous cyst, he or she may suggest surgical removal, cyst wall biopsy, or both.

Many cysts may develop as a result of a chronic medical condition or underlying diseases, such as fibrocystic breast disease or PCOS — which puts the treatment’s focus at the medical condition itself, not the cyst.

Treatment Cost for Cysts 

Treatment costs for cysts may vary depending on the treatment option recommended by your doctor.

For more details regarding the treatment costs for cysts at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health. 

Prevention of Cysts

In general, you cannot prevent cysts completely. However, there are exceptions. Women who are prone to develop ovarian cysts may be able to prevent new cysts by using hormonal contraceptives.

Cleaning your lids near the lash line using a gentle cleanser can prevent blocked oil ducts. This can help prevent chalazion cysts, which are swelling or small lumps on the eyelids due to blocked glands.

Prevention of pilonidal cysts involves maintaining the hygiene of the area where the cyst grows.  Sitting for long periods of time can also help prevent this type of cyst from growing.

Home Remedies for Cysts

It is not recommended to ‘pop’ your cyst at home — as this can increase your risk of infection. The fluid that bursts from the cyst also does not guarantee that the cyst will go away permanently. Below are several home care treatments for cyst: 

  • Warm compress to dry and soothe the lumps
  • Honey is recommended for treating cysts, although further research is needed regarding its properties.
  • Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is believed to help treat certain types of cysts, 
  • Apple cider vinegar is another natural remedy that is recommended for treating cysts to some extent. However, further research is needed to prove that apple cider vinegar can actually treat cysts.
  • Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties that can relieve pain and irritation of cysts. Aloe vera can also help reduce or eliminate certain types of cysts caused by bacteria or other pathogens

Have questions about cysts? Write in the comment section below. You can also have teleconsultations with your doctor from hospitals at home or abroad by using Smarter Health’s free service.

Tele-consultation is the best solution to access healthcare services in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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