cyst close up
1 / 13

What Is a Cyst?

It’s a lump of fluid, air, or something else. Cysts are very common, and most aren’t cancer. You may need tests (like a CT scan, ultrasound, or biopsy) to confirm that it’s a cyst. Often, cysts don’t need treatment, but your doctor can let you know if yours does. You can get cysts in many different parts of your body, and you may not even know that they’re there.

Swipe to advance
acne cyst
2 / 13

Acne Cyst

You get acne when oil and dead skin block a pore. This often causes a small growth, or “pimple,” that goes away on its own or with over-the-counter drugs. If it’s more serious or a pimple gets very irritated, you might get a larger squishy growth called a cyst. (Hard growths are called nodules.) Talk to your doctor about treatment including antibiotics and other medications for your cysts.

Swipe to advance
bakers cyst
3 / 13

Baker’s Cyst

A soft, fluid-filled lump can form at the back of your knee if you injure the joint because of arthritis, inflammation, a torn ligament, or other causes. You might mistake it for a blood clot. Rest with your leg raised up and ice the area for 15 minutes at a time. Anti-inflammatory drugs could also help. In some cases your doctor may suggest surgery or use a needle to drain it or inject steroids to lessen swelling.

Swipe to advance
bartholins cysts
4 / 13

Bartholin's Cyst

The tiny Bartholin glands are deep under the skin on either side of the vagina opening. Their job seems to be to make fluids for sex. If something blocks a duct in one of these glands, it fills with mucus and gets bigger. It could even get infected and form a sore called an abscess. Tub soaks can help. In serious cases, your doctor might do surgery to create a permanent drain or remove the cyst.

Swipe to advance
breast cyst
5 / 13

Breast Cyst

You might notice one or more smooth lumps with clear edges on your breast, but you can’t always feel them. They may hurt in the days just before your period starts or when you have lots of caffeine. They’re very common and more likely right before menopause, or afterward, if you take replacement hormones. You don’t usually need to treat them, but see your doctor about any breast lump because it may be something more serious than a cyst.

Swipe to advance
urachal cysts
6 / 13

Urachal Cyst

In the womb, a baby’s bladder connects to its belly button through a channel called the urachus in the abdominal wall gut. If it doesn’t close by the time you’re born, a small lump of tissue and fluid (a cyst) can grow there. If it gets infected, you could have belly button pain, fever, and bloody urine. Your doctor may give you antibiotics, drain or remove the cyst, and possibly repair the area with surgery.

Swipe to advance
sebaceous cyst
7 / 13

Sebaceous Cyst

Here, something blocks a gland around a hair or irritates the opening (follicle) that holds it, often on your face, ear, head, trunk, or groin. That causes a bump to grow slowly under the skin. It’s usually soft enough to move when you touch it.  Usually, it doesn’t hurt, but you might notice a bad smell. Smaller ones usually go away on their own, but your doctor may need to drain or remove larger, swollen, or painful cysts.

Swipe to advance
pilonidal cyst
8 / 13

Pilonidal Cyst

A loose hair gets pushed back into the skin. Your body sees it as a threat and builds a pocket around it that holds dead skin and fluid. You might notice irritation at the base of your spine in the crease where your buttocks start.  If it gets infected, it can become very painful and may need to be drained or removed. Younger men get it more often, as do people who sit a lot, aren’t active, or are obese.

Swipe to advance
ganglion cyst
9 / 13

Ganglion Cyst

It’s a lump filled with liquid, most often near joints or tendons on your wrist or fingers. Tendon or joint stress might cause it, but it’s not clear. It may hurt and sometimes changes in size or goes away on its own. Anti-inflammatory meds or splints might curb pain. In more serious cases, your doctor may drain it with a needle or remove it completely.

Swipe to advance
chalazion
10 / 13

Chalazion

Oil from the meibomian glands around the eyelids gets too thick or the opening clogs. Either way, it builds up and inflames the gland and forms a lump. The cause is often unclear, but certain skin types get it more. You may have no pain unless it gets fairly large. Really big ones can press on your eye and blur your vision. It usually goes away on its own, and warm compresses can help. Talk to your doctor if it sticks around.

Swipe to advance
cysticercosis
11 / 13

Cysticercosis

Eggs from a pork tapeworm, a parasite, can pass into your food or drink contaminated with poop. They hatch in your gut and send small round “oncospheres” through your blood to the brain, muscles, liver, and other organs where they form cysts. You doctor will probably only treat them if they’re in your brain where they could cause headaches, seizures, confusion, or other problems. You’d likely take steroids to ease inflammation.

Swipe to advance
cysticercosis
12 / 13

Spermatocele

This cyst forms inside the epididymis, a coiled tube inside a man’s scrotum that connects to his testicles and helps move sperm. It seems to happen when sperm build up at the end of the tube. It’s not cancerous and doesn’t usually hurt, but your doctor should check to be sure. It usually goes away on its own. About a third of all men will get a spermatocele in their lifetime.

Swipe to advance
dermoid cyst
13 / 13

Dermoid Cyst

It happens before you’re born if the layers of your skin don’t grow together properly, usually on the head, neck, or face. That causes a pocket that traps skin, hair follicles, sweat glands, blood, fat, nails, teeth, and other structures. It might not be noticeable until fluid builds up and makes it bigger, sometimes years after birth. Then it looks like a small lump with skin on top that’s easy to move. Your doctor will likely remove the cyst with surgery.

Swipe to advance

Up Next

Next Slideshow Title

Sources | Medically Reviewed on 11/10/2018 Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on November 10, 2018

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

1) jarabee123 / Thinkstock

2) Dr P. Marazzi / Science Source

3) Dr P. Marazzi / Science Source

4) CNRI / Science Source

5) ZEPHYR / Science Source

6) (Both)  BSIP / Science Source

7) Girand / Science Source

8) Stocktrek Images / Science Source

9) Barry Slaven / Medical Images

10) ISM / BARRAQUER, Barcelona

11) Steve Gschmeissner / Science Source  (inset), Living Art Enterprises / Science Source  (background)

12) PIXOLOGICSTUDIO / Science Source

13) SPL / Science Source

 

American Academy of Dermatology: “Different kinds of pimples,” “What can clear severe acne?”

American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus: “Chalazion.”

American Pediatric Surgical Association: “Urachal Cysts.”

American Society for Surgery of The Hand: “Ganglion Cysts.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Spermatocele,” “Sebaceous Cysts,” “Breast Cysts,” “What is a Baker’s cyst?”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Sebaceous Cysts.”

Mayo Clinic: “Pilonidal cyst.”

Merck Manual: “Tapeworm Infection,” “Bartholin Gland Cysts.”

Michigan Medicine Kellogg Eye Center: “Chalazion and Stye.”

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences: “Urachal cyst.”

St. Louis Children’s Hospital: “Dermoid Cyst in Children.”

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on November 10, 2018

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.