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What is a Subcutaneous Cyst?

A subcutaneous cyst is a closed pocket of tissue under the skin filled with fluid or other material. These cysts can appear anywhere on the body, often manifesting as a lump that's movable upon touch. While typically benign, they can become infected or uncomfortable. Curious about how these cysts look and when to seek treatment? Dive deeper into the world beneath our skin.
Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke

A subcutaneous cyst is an abnormal growth that develops beneath the surface of the skin. Although it is beneath the skin, these type of cysts may be visible through the outer layer of skin. The growth is generally round and composed of tissue, fluid, or other bodily 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 permanently treated in order to reduce any pain or for cosmetic reasons.

One possible cause of a subcutaneous cyst is a bacterial infection that may result in excessive pus or other liquid accumulating underneath the skin. An infection can penetrate to the underlying layers of skin through a wound or bite. Cysts may also be caused by accumulations of hair, skin tissue, or fluid underneath the skin that become trapped and form a sac-like growth.

Oral antibiotics may be prescribed to treat a subcutaneous cyst.
Oral antibiotics may be prescribed to treat a subcutaneous cyst.

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

Pilar cysts are common subcutaneous growths found in the hair follicles of the scalp.
Pilar cysts are common subcutaneous growths found in the hair follicles of the scalp.

A subcutaneous cyst may be able to be treated with a non-surgical method in some cases. If the cyst is the result of a bacterial infection that caused excessive fluid accumulation underneath the surface of the skin, oral antibiotic medications may be prescribed to kill the bacteria and eliminate the pus and other fluid causing the cyst. Corticosteroid medications may also be prescribed as a treatment option because they may help eliminate any inflammation, which will loosen any trapped substances.

Stubborn subcutaneous cysts that don't respond to non-surgical treatments may need to be removed.
Stubborn subcutaneous cysts that don't respond to non-surgical treatments may need to be removed.

More serious subcutaneous cysts that do not respond to treatment with medication will generally require surgery. A surgeon will usually make an incision beneath the skin and cut around the cyst to completely remove it. If the cyst is able to be surgically removed in one piece, it is more likely that it will not return. Cysts that are not able to be removed in a solid piece may have small areas left behind that make them more likely to return in the future.

Discussion Comments

rburow

Infection is indeed a major concern. Just because a cyst is non-malignant, doesn't mean it should be ignored. Be careful of cuts, and open wounds near cysts under the skin. Wash the cut and cover with a clean band-aid or gauze. Keep it clean and covered until it is completely healed, to avoid exacerbating the situation.

An inflamed sebaceous cyst could be a sign of infection.

Jewellian

It seems that cyst removal would be more complicated and I suppose if the cyst were not subcutaneous, it would pose a bigger threat. The article indicates that in most cases subcutaneous cysts are pretty harmless, as cysts go. But, when the cyst becomes infected, that is another story, requiring a whole different skill set for removal. Anymore, infection is the biggest concern when dealing with any health concern. It always worsens the situation and gone undiagnosed and treated, infection can even become life threatening.

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    • Oral antibiotics may be prescribed to treat a subcutaneous cyst.
      By: gilitukha
      Oral antibiotics may be prescribed to treat a subcutaneous cyst.
    • Pilar cysts are common subcutaneous growths found in the hair follicles of the scalp.
      By: Paul Huxley
      Pilar cysts are common subcutaneous growths found in the hair follicles of the scalp.
    • Stubborn subcutaneous cysts that don't respond to non-surgical treatments may need to be removed.
      By: Radu Razvan
      Stubborn subcutaneous cysts that don't respond to non-surgical treatments may need to be removed.
    • The bacteria that causes a subcutaneous cyst may infect the body through a wound.
      By: wellphoto
      The bacteria that causes a subcutaneous cyst may infect the body through a wound.