What is Cyst?

Cysts are closed pouches or pockets of tissues that may be filled with fluids, pus, air or other material. It is a growth covered with membrane. These are usually formed in the empty regions between skin tissues and muscles or on the surface of an organ.

Types of Cyst

Over hundred different types of cyst may arise in the human body. The most famous of these growths are:

Ovarian Cyst

These are cystic tumors arising in the ovary. They are usually benign in nature. These are common during the reproductive stage of a woman, from puberty to menopause. These are less common once a woman reaches menopause.

Sebaceous cyst

These arise as small lumps and are usually caused due to skin trauma or inflammation of hair follicles. Generally, these can be spotted in areas like neck, face and trunk. Sometimes, they may also develop in parts of the genitalia or the vaginal region. The growths are filled with an oily, cheese-like substance.

Arachnoid Cyst

These affect different regions, such as the cranial base, the arachnoid membrane and the surface of the brain. The development of these growths occurs due to a congenital disorder. Most lumps of this type arise during infancy. However, there may be a delay in the onset until adolescence.

Renal Cyst

These can arise inside or over the surface of the kidneys and consist of a collection of fluids. Most of these are benign in nature though some are malignant or potentially cancerous. These are seen in cystic kidney disorders, involving Medullary Sponge kidney and Polycystic Kidney disease.

Chalazion Cyst

These typically affect the eyelids and are caused by a swelling of an obstructed meibomian gland, generally on the upper eyelid. These are often mistaken for a sty. Unlike a sty, however, they do not arise on the margin of the lid. Rather, they do not point inside the lid.

Ganglion Cyst

These growths affect tendons, joints of the feet and hands. They are most commonly found on the fingers and in the region surrounding the dorsum of the wrist. These are also known as “Bible bumps” or “Bible Cysts”. These are idiopathic growths, i.e, the cause of their development is uncertain.

Epididymal Cyst

These can be seen in vessels that are attached to the testicles. Generally, these arise in adults who are approximately 40 years of age. They generally arise around the time of puberty. These are rare in kids.


These are caused due to an unusual growth of cells and usually affect the mandible, or the jaw in vertebrates attached to help in opening the mouth. It is always regarded as a benign growth.

Dermoid Cyst

These comprise of mature tissue and are almost always benign. These may also consist of hair follicles, skin, hair, sweat glands, bone, teeth, eyes, thyroid tissue and cartilage.

Sebaceous cysts, Ovarian cysts, Ganglion cysts and Chalazions are the most common type of skin cysts.

What Causes Cysts?

Some of the main causes of Cysts are:

  • Fetal development
  • Infection
  • Parasites
  • Tumors
  • Obstruction of sebaceous glands
  • Acquired (Genetic) conditions
  • Sticking of a foreign object in the skin
  • Chronic inflammatory conditions
  • Defects in organs developing within the embryo

Symptoms of Cysts

People suffering from these growths usually notice the appearing of small, hard lumps over the skin surface on the wrists or forearms. These are usually filled with semi-solid material such as Sebum, air or infected fluids. Some of these are palpable or experienced when touched by fingers.

Diagnosis of Cysts

The initial diagnosis of cysts can be carried out by physical observation. These can be followed up with the aid of imaging studies like:

  • Ultrasound
  • X-rays
  • Computerized Tomography (CAT) Scans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scans

In some cases, a suspected cyst is also examined with the aid of a process called Needle Aspiration.

Treatment of Cysts

Treatment of Cysts ranges from simple enucleation (surgical removal without incision) to resection and curettage. In case of cysts, such as Buccal Bifurcation Cyst, close observation can only be required unless there are problems like infection.

In most cases, pain relievers and antibiotics are prescribed by a physician instead of surgical intervention. A sebaceous cyst can result in the development of an unpleasant lump beneath the skin. However, removal of the cyst is medically unnecessary. In case of more acute cyst formations, lancing may be required and followed by a regime of antibiotics and sterile bandages. Secondary infections can be cause for concern until there has been complete drainage of a severe cyst.

A cyst, once formed, can go away on its own or require removal through an operative procedure.

Prognosis of Cysts

Most cysts are benign in nature and do not give rise to any cancerous conditions. These may resolve on their own or need treatment through medications or surgical procedure. Some of these growths persist as hard lumps for years. Some develop as cancerous tumors and give rise to malignant complications.

If you are having a persistent growth on your body that feels wobbly and soft to touch, do not delay treatment. Get in touch with a doctor and seek expert medical opinion. That way, you can avoid future complications even if your apparently harmless lump is a potentially cancerous tumor.

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