Skin Cyst: Care Instructions

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A skin cyst is a lump just under the skin. These cysts can form when a hair follicle becomes blocked. They are common in acne and may occur on the face, neck, back, and genitals. But they can form anywhere on the body. These cysts aren't cancer, and they don't lead to cancer. They tend not to hurt, but they can sometimes become swollen and painful. They also may break open (rupture) and cause scarring.

These cysts may not cause problems. They may not need treatment. If a cyst is swollen and hurts, the doctor may inject it with a medicine or treat it with antibiotics if it's infected. But sometimes a painful or infected cyst will need to be removed or opened. In those cases, the doctor will use numbing medicine and then will cut into the cyst to drain it or remove it.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Do not squeeze the cyst or poke it with a needle to open it. This can cause swelling, redness, and infection.
  • Always have a doctor look at any new lumps you get to make sure that they are not serious.
  • If you had stitches, you may get other instructions. You will have to come back to have the stitches removed.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have a fever, redness, or swelling after you get a shot of medicine in the cyst.
  • You see or feel a new lump on your skin.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.