Cysts are closed capsule or sac-like structures, typically containing a liquid, semisolid, or gaseous material, much like a blister. There are many types, such as acne cysts, ganglion cysts, and kidney cysts.
Cysts vary in size from microscopic to very large. Very large cysts can displace internal organs.
A cyst is not a regular part of the tissue where it occurs. It has a distinct membrane and is separate from nearby tissue. The outer, or capsular, portion of a cyst is known as the cyst wall.
This article looks at the different types of cysts, their causes and symptoms, and some treatment options.
There are various different types of cysts.
Arachnoid cysts may affect newborn babies. Doctors call these primary arachnoid cysts.
The arachnoid membrane covers the brain. During fetal development, it doubles up or splits to form an abnormal pocket of spinal fluid. In some cases, a doctor may need to drain the cyst.
Secondary arachnoid cysts develop as a result of head injury, tumors, or meningitis.
Baker’s cysts are also known as popliteal cysts.
Some do not cause any symptoms. However, a person with a Baker’s cyst can experience:
- knee pain
- a lump behind the knee
- a feeling of fullness behind the knee
- swelling in the knee and lower leg
- stiffness or tightness located at the back of the knee
Bartholin’s cysts can occur if the ducts of the Bartholin gland, which are inside the vagina, become blocked.
Breast cysts are
In people assigned female at birth, these cysts can develop or change in size throughout the menstrual cycle, and they often disappear on their own. However, a doctor can drain the fluid if they are causing discomfort.
According to the
Very small eyelid glands, known as meibomian glands, make a lubricant that comes out of tiny openings in the edges of the eyelids. Cysts can form here if the ducts are blocked. These are known as chalazion cysts.
According to the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics for a chalazion cyst.
Colloid cysts develop in the brain and contain gelatinous material.
Treatment depends on whether the cyst is causing symptoms or a buildup of fluid in the brain. A doctor
Dentigerous cysts surround the crown of an unerupted tooth. It typically develops when a person is in their
Some people may require surgery to remove the cyst.
Dermoid cysts comprise mature skin, hair follicles, sweat glands, and clumps of long hair, as well as fat, bone, cartilage, and thyroid tissue.
They can form
Epidermoid cysts contain keratin material and occur on the skin of the face, back, scalp, or scrotum.
Epididymal cysts, or spermatoceles, form in the vessels attached to the testes. They are benign and contain a fluid that is white and cloudy. They also contain sperm.
They rarely need treatment. However, treatment may be necessary if they cause pain or become too large.
Ganglion cysts are small, benign cysts that form on or near a joint or covering of a tendon.
A doctor may recommend draining the cyst or surgery to remove it.
Treatment options include surgery and medication.
Solitary cysts contain fluids, sometimes including blood. Some are present at birth, while tubular blockages cause others.
People with renal vascular diseases may have cysts that form due to dilatation of the blood vessels.
Treatment for kidney cysts may not be necessary if they do not cause any symptoms. However, draining or surgery can help manage any symptoms that do occur.
The majority of ovarian cysts are benign and cause no symptoms. However, some can become so large that the abdomen protrudes.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) refers to when the ovaries develop many small cysts.
A doctor may recommend surgery to remove the cyst if it grows large, causes pain, or does not go away in time.
Pancreatic cysts can occur when the cells of the pancreas are injured or inflamed. They can also occur when pancreatic enzymes leak and damage the tissue of the pancreas.
There are almost 20 types of pancreatic cysts. They can be cancerous or noncancerous. Treatment can depend on the type.
Periapical cysts are the
These cysts usually develop due to inflammation of the pulp, pulp death, or tooth decay.
Doctors may recommend endodontic (root canal) therapy for periapical cysts.
Learn more about root canal treatment and what to expect.
Radical surgical excision is the main treatment for pilar cysts.
These cysts can grow in clusters, which sometimes creates a hole or cavity in the skin.
A person may not require treatment for the cyst unless an infection develops. A doctor may then drain the cyst and treat the infection.
Learn more about an ingrown hair cyst and how to treat it.
Pineal gland cysts
These are benign cysts that form in the pineal gland in the brain. According to a review from 2020, pineal gland cysts are common.
A person may not require surgery to remove the cyst unless it causes painful or bothersome symptoms.
Tarlov cysts — also known as perineural, perineurial, or sacral nerve root cysts — occur at the base of the spine and are filled with cerebrospinal fluid.
Vocal fold cysts
Vocal fold cysts can interfere with the quality of a person’s speech, sometimes causing their vocal cords to produce:
- multiple tones simultaneously, known as diplophonia
- breathy speech, or dysphonia
Treatment can include:
- speech therapy
View the slideshow below for pictures of cysts.
The signs and symptoms of cysts vary widely depending on what type of cyst it is.
Skin cysts can cause symptoms such as:
- a lump under the skin
- fluid or pus in the lump
- redness or discoloration
Many internal cysts, such as those that occur in the kidneys or the liver, may not cause any symptoms at all. A person may not notice them until they show up on an imaging scan, such as an MRI, CT, or ultrasound scan.
It is unusual for some cysts, such as skin cysts, to cause pain unless they rupture, become infected, or are inflamed. However, breast cysts can cause pain.
A person may also experience headaches and other symptoms if a cyst develops on the brain.
Cysts can occur anywhere on the body. There are numerous possible causes, including:
- clogged sebaceous glands
- genetic conditions
- a fault in an organ of a developing embryo
- a defect in the cells
- chronic inflammatory conditions
- blockages of ducts in the body that cause fluids to build up
- a parasite
- an injury that breaks a vessel
Cysts are usually benign and develop due to blockages in the body’s natural drainage systems.
However, some cysts can be malignant, or cancerous.
Anyone with any concerns about a cyst should consider contacting a doctor.
The treatment options for a cyst will depend on a range of factors, including the type of cyst, where it is, its size, and the degree of discomfort it is causing.
For very large cysts that are causing symptoms, a doctor may recommend surgical removal.
Sometimes, a doctor can drain, or aspirate, the cyst by inserting a needle or catheter into the cavity. If the cyst is not easily accessible, they may use radiologic imaging to accurately guide the needle or catheter.
Although cysts and boils can appear similar in appearance, their causes and treatment options are different.
A cyst is a closed sac that consists of liquid, gaseous, or semisolid material.
A boil is a lump that has filled with pus and develops around hair follicles. They
Here are some frequently asked questions about cysts.
Do cysts go away on their own?
Some cysts may go away on their own. However, if a cyst does not go away or grows larger, it may require treatment, such as surgery to remove it or aspiration.
How serious is a cyst?
Many cysts are benign, and they may not cause any symptoms. A person may not know they have a cyst, and the cyst may go away on its own. However, some cysts can be cancerous, so it is best to contact a doctor as soon as a person has concerns about a cyst.
Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can develop in tissues in any part of the body. They are relatively common, and there are many different types.
Infections, tumors, parasites, and injuries can cause cysts. They are usually benign, but sometimes, they can be cancerous.
If a person has concerns about a cyst or has noticed a new lump, it is best to contact a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.