What Dermatologists Do About Cysts
If you or a family member has a new nodule in your skin, now’s a good time to get the lesion diagnosed by a Dermatologist, because it could be what’s called a cyst, the result of a skin infection. Let’s take a look at why it’s important to get cysts managed, from my perspective as a Dermatologist in Cordova, Tennessee.
First: What is a cyst?
A cyst, or sebaceous or pilar or epid meral or epidermoid cyst, happens because the body either expels that infected gland to the skin surface, causing an abscess or boil, or contains that infection, by building a type of cyst sack around it. The result is a skin nodule.
The problem is that this cyst sack is at risk of leakage or rupture if it gets traumatized, leading to an active skin infection, a type of skin emergency. If a cyst is actively infected, we do an incision and drainage, putting a shot into the cyst, then making a cut into it, allowing the pus to drain.
It’s ideal later to get the cyst sack removed, with a cyst excision: the cyst is numbed up or anesthetized, with a local shot, then cut out, the site frequently being closed with stiches.
In my own Dermatology practice, I've found that people who are more active athletically tend to be more prone to getting cysts, perhaps because of sweating and more stretching to their skin.
This excision procedure to treat cysts leaves a scar, and sometimes even a raised scar called a keloid, so we advise the patient as to whether it’s best to completely remove the cyst with stitches. The advantage is that the lesion can be sent off to the Dermatopathology Laboratory to be checked for cancer: the lesion might actually be a cystic basal cell skin cancer or even a melanoma, so when we remove a cyst, we frequently send the tissue into the lab. And if a scar or keloid results from the excision, we can later treat the site with steroid injections to reduce the scar.
A best first move is a consultation with a Board-certified Dermatologist for a skin check-up, an especially high priority for people with skin lesions that could be cancerous. Check out “Understanding the Melanoma Crisis: Scarlet’s Story,’ a 2018 movie sponsored by my Dermatology practice on Youtube.
Scarlet was a 26 year old promising student teacher when she was found to have melanoma in a growth on her knee: