There are a number of different types of cysts that can affect the surface of the skin or the area just beneath the skin’s surface. A cyst is basically a sac-like structure that may be solid, semi-solid or filled with liquid. Whether or not a cyst may be potentially dangerous or not depends on the type of the cyst and its location.

Sebaceous Cysts
One of the main types of cysts seen in patients who consult with a dermatologist are sebaceous cysts. These cysts appear on the surface of the skin and feel like a hard lump. They are often filled with a cheesy, fatty substance that is semi-solid.

There are basically two types of sebaceous cysts. Epidermal cysts are located on the skin surface and they may be found anywhere on the body. However, epidermal cysts are often found on the back, neck, ears and upper arms. Pilar cysts are cysts that arise from the hair follicles on the scalp.

In most cases, sebaceous cysts are benign and not cancerous. They may grow large and become painful if not removed.

Sebaceous cysts are generally removed by a minor surgical procedure. A sample of the cyst is prepared and sent to the lab where it will be determined if the cyst was cancerous or benign.

A cyst that occurs on the eyelid is known medically as a chalazion. A chalazion forms when the secretions of the meibomian glands of the eyelid become blocked.

Most chalazions will resolve themselves over time without treatment. Sometimes, antibiotic eye drops and ointments are necessary to relieve the problem. Very large chalazions that do not resolve by other treatment methods are surgically removed.

Cystic Acne
Cystic acne is a severe type of acne that causes the formation of painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin. This type of acne is more prevalent in males and occurs on the face, back and chest. Cystic acne that is not treated properly may lead to the formation of acne scaring.

Dermatologists can recommend many treatment options for cystic acne. These treatments will help to minimize the potential for scaring.

While most cysts are not dangerous, it is best to have any suspicious growth, lump or bump checked by a qualified physician.