Skin cysts are fluid filled sacs beneath the surface. They often feel like bumps to the touch. They can also feel tender or even hot. The cyst is often movable below the surface as well.
Skin cysts can develop from hair follicles or the sebaceous oil glands that are connected to the follicular duct. They can result from trauma that is inflicted on these structures.
The outer skin layer (made of epidermoid cells) typically sheds. However, they can migrate below the skin’s surface and multiply. This creates a wall around the damaged follicle or sebaceous gland, known as a capsule. These cells will then secrete keratin into this space, creating a semi-fluid filler.
In most cases skin cysts are harmless. However, there are rare cases where they are malignant. Cysts can sometimes develop into squamous or basal cell carcinomas.
Skin cysts often require surgical removal. It is not enough to simply drain out the fluid. The wall of the cyst is what creates the fluid filler. Therefore, this must be removed as well.
Lasers can also be used to vaporize unwanted cells.
If the cyst is inflamed, corticosteroid injections may help reduce the inflammation.
Acne cysts are bumps that develop when there is a breakage or tear in the wall of the skin pore. A membrane of cells then develops to seal this opening. Therefore, cystic acne is different from severe acne inflammation. However, many people use the two terms interchangeably.
Just about anyone can develop skin cysts, particularly after trauma. But susceptibility is higher for those who are:
(2) past puberty
(3) acne prone
(4) receiving high levels of sun exposure
Skin cysts can get infected. They can also develop ruptures that turn into abcesses that look like boils. This requires immediate attention. Inflammation is also another possibility.
An abscess is an aggregation of pus. Although a cyst certainly contains pus-like fluid, it is not the same. Pus results from inflammation. And the fluid in cysts are made of keratin, which is a protein that is secreted by the wall.