Cysts are fluid-filled pockets that form on the skin. While not usually dangerous, they can be painful and annoying. Depending on the type of cyst, you can usually have a cyst medically removed with the assistance of a doctor.
Decide if medical intervention is necessary. Facial cysts, medically referred to as sebaceous cysts, can be annoying and unsightly but they don’t necessarily require medical intervention. If the cyst is not painful, it might be best to leave it alone to avoid complications having it removed. However, you should see a doctor if any of the following develop:
- Facial cysts are usually small, round lumps just underneath the skin. They may be black, reddish or yellowish, and occasionally release foul-smelling discharge. Cysts are generally more painful than other skin conditions, such as pimples.
- If the cyst ruptures, this can lead to a potentially dangerous boil-like infection. Prompt treatment and removal is required.
- If the cyst suddenly becomes painful and swollen, it may be infected. See a doctor to get the cyst removed and get the proper antibiotics.
- In very rare cases, a cyst can lead to skin cancer. During your regular annual doctor’s exam, ask your doctor to look at the cyst and determine if it poses a risk for cancer.
Ask your doctor for an injection. If the cyst is infected or painful, your doctor can inject the cyst with a medication. While this will not fully remove the cyst, it will reduce redness and swelling. This can make the cyst less noticeable.
Have the cyst drained. If the cyst grows significantly or becomes painful and uncomfortable, you can have it medically removed. The cyst can be cut open and drained by your doctor.
- The doctor will make a small cut in the cyst and gently drains out the built up fluid. The procedure is fairly quick and usually not painful.
- The major downside to this method is that cysts often reoccur after being lanced and drained.
Ask about surgery. The only way to fully remove a cyst is through surgery. Talk to your doctor about undergoing surgery if you want a cyst removed.
- Cyst removal surgery is minor. It does not take very long and recovery time is relatively brief. However, you may have to return to your doctor’s office after the surgery to remove any stitches.
- Surgery is very safe and usually prevents cysts from occurring. However, cysts do not usually pose a medical threat. Therefore it may be difficult to get surgery covered by insurance.
Follow the R.I.C.E.method. A baker’s cyst is a fluid-filled cyst that causes a bulge at the base of the knee. It’s usually the result of an existing knee injury or a chronic condition like arthritis. Caring for your joints via the R.I.C.E. method can help.
- R.I.C.E. stands for resting your leg, icing your knee, compressing your knee with a wrap, and elevating your leg whenever possible.
- Rest your leg, preferably in an elevated position, as the cyst persists. Make sure to never place an ice pack directly on your body. Always wrap it in a cloth or towel first.
- When wrapping your leg, buy a wrap at a drugstore and follow the instructions on the package. If you have any conditions that increase your risk of blood clots, do not wrap your leg without consulting with a doctor first.
- R.I.C.E. might treat underlying joint pain that caused a the cyst to begin with. The cyst may decreases in size and stop causing pain.
- Try over the counter pain meds. While resting an elevating your leg, medications like ibuprofen, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and aspirin can help ease some of the pain.
Ask your doctor to drain the cyst. In order to get the cyst removed, you need a doctor to drain it. If your baker’s cyst does not respond to the R.I.C.E. method, see a doctor about having it removed medically.
- The fluid will be drained from your knee using a needle. While this is not extremely painful, many people find the activity anxiety-inducing. If you fear needles, as a friend or family member to come with you for support.
- Once the doctor drains the fluid, the baker’s cyst should be gone. However, there is a chance the cyst will reoccur in the future. Talk to your doctor about any underlying health conditions that might have caused the cyst.
Participate in physical therapy. After the cyst is drained, your doctor might recommend you engage in regular physical therapy. Gentle motion, guided by a trained therapist, can help you get your joints back in form. It can also help address any issues that caused the cyst to develop. Ask your doctor for a recommendation for a physical therapist after your cyst is drained.
Co-authored by Victor Catania, MD
“THIS VIDEO MAY CONTAIN DERMATOLOGIC SURGICAL AND/OR PROCEDURAL CONTENT. THE CONTENT SEEN IN THIS VIDEO IS PROVIDED ONLY FOR MEDICAL EDUCATION PURPOSES AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS, OR TREATMENT.“