A cyst is a closed sac-like structure. In anatomy, the word cyst can be applied to normal bag-like structures in the body like the bladder. In medicine, the word cyst is often applied to an abnormal structure. Cysts often contain substances that can be liquid, gas or semi-solid. They vary widely in size from microscopic to large enough to displace organs. They can occur anywhere on or in the body.
What Causes Them?
As there are hundreds of different types of cysts, there are many causes, and they include the following:
• Chronic inflammation
• An accumulation of fluid in the body caused by a blocked duct
• A vessel broken by an impact injury
• A parasite
• A congenital defect
• Cellular defects
• Genetic conditions
Are They Dangerous?
Most cysts are benign, especially if they’re small. Some, however, can either form around tumors or be tumors. Such ones can be malignant. Dermoid cysts and keratocysts are examples of such potentially dangerous ones.
Cysts in the breasts are often painful. Some studies have linked them to an increased risk of breast cancer. Some cysts are caused by a disease like polycystic ovary syndrome. While they may not be dangerous in themselves, they do indicate a problem that needs treatment. Others become a problem simply because of their location. For example, ones in the brain usually need to be drained or removed.
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS is a condition in which a woman has enlarged ovaries filled with cysts that interfere with the overaries’ function. Women with PCOS do not ovulate and therefore do not have periods. They also have abnormally high levels of a hormone called androgen. PCOS affects about five to ten percent of women of reproductive age. Its cause is so far unknown.
Symptoms of PCOS include acne, excessive hair growth and obesity. PCOS can increase the risk of uterine cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
What are Epidermoid and Sebaceous Cysts?
Epidermoid and sebaceous cysts develop on the skin. Epidermoid cysts are the more common type. They are small and typically painless. Epidermoid cysts consist of fat and keratin and most commonly appear on the face, neck, chest or shoulders. They have multiple causes with acne and minor injuries being among the most common.
Both types are generally harmless and only become a problem if they get infected or inflamed. In such cases, the doctor will treat the infection and/or remove the cyst.
How are They Treated?
Treatment depends on the cause. If the cyst is not caused by anything pathological, the doctor may drain it, remove it or leave it be. If you have a cyst anywhere on your body, we encourage you to schedule a consultation at RideView Dermatology to have it evaluated. We have offices in Forest, Smith Mountain Lake and Lynchburg. Contact us today to book your appointment.