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Know the basics

What are cysts?

A cyst is formed as a closed capsule or sac-like structure and filled with liquid, semisolid, or gaseous material, occur within almost any type of the body’s tissue.

The size of cysts varies from microscopic to large structures that can displace internal organs. Depend on the location, cysts have common types, such as:

  • Breast cysts are fluid-filled sacs inside the breast, which are usually not cancerous (benign). You can have one or many breast cysts and they can happen in one or both breasts.
  • A skin cyst is a fluid-filled bump lying just underneath the skin.
  • Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs or pockets within or on the surface of an ovary.
  • Brain cysts located in the brain are not truly “brain tumors” because they do not arise from the brain tissue itself.

How common are cysts?

Cysts are common. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of cysts?

The majority of small cysts have no symptoms or signs. Sometimes they may cause pain.

In case internal organs, cysts may not produce any symptoms if they are small. If the cysts become large and displace or compress other organs or block normal fluid flows in tissues like the liver, pancreas, or other organs, then symptoms related to those organs may develop.

Breast cysts

  • Cysts may be found in one or both breasts.
  • A smooth, easily movable round or oval lump with distinct edges.
  • The nipple may be clear, yellow, straw colored or dark brown.
  • Breast pain or tenderness in the area of the breast lump.
  • Increasing in breast lump size and breast tenderness just before your period.
  • Decreasing in breast lump size and resolution of other symptoms after your period.

Skin cysts

  • A small, round bump under the skin, usually on the face, trunk or neck.
  • A tiny blackhead plugging the central opening of the cyst.
  • A thick, yellow, foul-smelling material that sometimes drains from the cyst.
  • Redness, swelling and tenderness in the area, if inflamed or infected.

Ovarian cysts

  • A dull ache that may radiate to your lower back and thighs. The pain shortly before your period begins, just before it ends, or during intercourse (dyspareunia).
  • Pain during bowel movements or pressure on your bowels.
  • Nausea, vomiting or breast tenderness like that experienced during pregnancy.
  • Fullness or heaviness in your abdomen.
  • Pressure on your bladder that causes you to urinate more frequently or have difficulty emptying your bladder completely.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed below, please see your doctor right away.

Breast cysts

Normal breast tissue often feels lumpy or nodular. But if you feel any new breast lumps that persist after a menstrual period, or if an existing breast lump grows or changes.

Skin cysts

  • Grows rapidly;
  • Ruptures or becomes painful or infected;
  • Occurs in a spot that’s constantly irritated;
  • Bothers you for cosmetic reasons.

Ovarian cysts

  • Sudden, severe abdominal or pelvic pain;
  • Pain accompanied by fever or vomiting.

Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes cysts?

The following are some of the major causes of cyst formation:

  • Genetic conditions;
  • Tumors;
  • Infections;
  • Errors in embryonic development;
  • Cellular defects;
  • Chronic inflammatory conditions;
  • Blockages of ducts in the body;
  • Parasites;
  • Injuries.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for cysts?

The risk factors for a cyst depend on the underlying cause. Genetic conditions, defects in developing organs, infections, tumors, and any obstructions to the flow of fluid or oils or other substances are risk factors for cyst development.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How are cysts diagnosed?

  • Some cysts are easily palpated by the doctor, especially if the cysts are located in the skin or in organs that are readily palpable.
  • Imaging studies are very useful in finding cysts, such as ultrasound, X-ray, CAT scans, and MRIs.
  • Needle biopsies are sometimes used to determine if the malignant tissue is associated with a cyst-like structure, it also may be used to reduce the size of the cyst.
  • For ovarian cysts: if there is any concern that your cyst could be cancerous, your doctor will arrange blood tests to look for high levels of chemicals that can indicate ovarian cancer.

How are cysts treated?

In most cases, the cyst often disappears after a few months. The treatment for a cyst depends on the underlying cause of the cyst and whether or not the cyst is causing the patient problems.

In general, cysts are treated by draining them or removing them surgically; medical treatment is usually limited to reducing associated symptoms of their underlying causes.

Some of these cysts can be treated by simply aspirating the cyst contents through a needle or catheter, thereby collapsing the cyst.

Surgical removal: some cysts like ovarian cysts and brain cysts.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage cysts?

Make sure that you do not do squeeze or pop a cyst by yourself due to exacerbating the underlying cause in some individuals. In addition, it may cause the cyst to enlarge or become infected.

Breast cysts

  • Wear a well-fitted, supportive bra.
  • Apply a warm or cool compress can offer to also relieve pain.
  • Avoid caffeine. Some women find symptom relief after eliminating caffeine from their diets.
  • Reduce salt in your diet. Consuming less sodium reduces the amount of excess fluid retained by your body, which in turn may help relieve symptoms associated with a fluid-filled breast cyst.

Skin cysts

Most use topical treatments such as aloe vera, castor oil,  tea tree oil and many other compounds with the goal of rupturing the cyst. Check with a doctor before using these home remedies.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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