What is a subcutaneous cyst?

A subcutaneous cyst is an abnormal growth that develops below the surface of the skin. Although it is under the skin, these types of cysts can be seen through the outer layer of skin. The growth is usually round and made up of tissue, fluid, or other body materials, especially a wax-like substance produced by the sebaceous glands. Subcutaneous cysts are usually not cancerous or potentially serious in any way, and can often be treated permanently to reduce pain or for cosmetic reasons.

One possible cause of a subcutaneous cyst is a bacterial infection that can lead to excess pus or other fluid collecting under the skin. An infection can penetrate the underlying layers of the skin through a wound or bite. Subcutaneous cysts can also be caused by collections of hair, skin tissue, or fluid under the skin that become trapped and form a sac-like growth.

The main symptom of a subcutaneous cyst is a visible round growth. When pressed, the cyst may move slightly under the surface of the skin. The texture of the cyst may depend on its size, the amount of material accumulated within the cyst, and the amount of time it has been developing. Some subcutaneous cysts may be smooth to the touch, while others may have a harder texture. Some people may also experience pain when their cysts are touched.

A subcutaneous cyst can be treated non-surgical in some cases. If the cyst is the result of a bacterial infection that caused excessive fluid buildup under the skin's surface, oral antibiotics may be prescribed to kill the bacteria and remove the pus and other fluid causing the cyst. Corticosteroid medications may also be prescribed as a treatment option for subcutaneous cysts because they can help get rid of any inflammation and loosen trapped substances.

More serious subcutaneous cysts that do not respond to drug treatment will usually require surgery. A surgeon will usually make an incision under the skin and cut around the cyst to completely remove it. If the cyst can be surgically removed in one piece, it is more likely not to come back. Cysts that cannot be removed in a solid piece may leave behind small areas that make it more likely that they will return in the future.

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