What’s the Treatment for Skin Cysts?

People often get painless little bumps under their skin, called cysts.

Cysts can develop on most parts of the body. Some are found in hair follicles.

They can develop for many reasons -- and sometimes for no obvious reason. They are more common in men than in women.

Skin cysts don’t need treatment most of the time. They’re usually painless and nothing to worry about, unless they get sore or infected.

But if you have a cyst that bothers you or is embarrassing, you should discuss it with your doctor. Also, let your doctor know about any skin conditions you have so he can check them for signs of a serious problem.

Treatments

A warm, moist cloth on the area might help it drain and heal, but it’ll probably come back. (If it drains, the stuff that comes out will probably smell bad.)

Cysts will sometimes go away on their own.

Your doctor can easily treat them. Options include:

  • Draining the cyst. The doctor cuts the cyst and pushes out the gunk inside. Cysts can still return after this.
  • Injecting medicine into the cyst to reduce swelling if it’s tender, swollen or growing,
  • Removing it by minor surgery to take out the entire cyst wall. This usually keeps them from coming back.
  • Laser removal.

What You Can Do, What You Shouldn’t Do

It might be tempting, but don’t try to pop or drain the cyst yourself. That can cause infection, and the cyst will probably come back.

Keep it clean by washing with warm soap and water.

Try putting a bathwater-warm washcloth on it for 20 to 30 minutes, three to four times a day, to help soothe it and speed healing.

Wrap it in a bandage if it starts to drain and make an appointment with your doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on April 20, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic: “Sebaceous Cysts.”

Mayo Clinic: “Epidermoid cysts (sebaceous cysts).”

University of Michigan: “Skin Cyst: Home Treatment.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Sebaceous Cysts.”

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