A cyst refers to any sort of cavity, or closed pocket of tissue, that is filled with fluid, or pus. In the body, abnormal sacs can form almost anywhere in the body and have a wide range of implications. Cysts can come in a wide variety of sizes. They are further defined based on their location, origin, and causes.

Cysts are usually not dangerous, since they come in so many different forms, are always noncancerous. In most cases, cysts are caused by infection, impact damage, blocked fluid ducts, and defective cells. Sometimes, cysts can indicate cancerous cells, or several other serious conditions, which is why it is important to find and address them as soon as possible. This can be difficult since not all cysts appear on the surface of the skin, and they do not always cause pain. Once found, however, they can usually be treated by surgical removal. Sometimes a graft is necessary to repair missing tissue.

Cysts need to be dealt with as soon as possible, so it is important to keep a close watch on one's own health and keep records of strange pains and swelling. Careful monitoring of family history with cysts may help predict them and prevent the dangerous ones.

Image of a ganglion cyst.
Image of a ganglion cyst.


There are many different types of cysts. They are usually characterized by their location and or size. The majority of cysts are benign, but some can become malignant. Cysts are actually very common. There are superficial cysts, which are the outwardly visible cysts, and internal cysts which are located on internal organs.

Some of the most common types of cysts include:

  • Ovarian cysts
  • Cysts in the breasts
  • Baker cyst (behind the knee)
  • Cystic acne
  • Cysts in the thyroid gland
  • Sebaceous cysts (small glands in the skin)
  • Ganglion cysts (joints and tendons)
  • Chalazions (cysts within the eyelid)
  • Pancreatic cysts
  • Abscesses and boils on the skin


Many cysts that develop go away on their own. There are instances, however, where cysts do not go away or there own or they come back. Treatment is available for patients who want to remove the cyst(s). Doctors can surgically remove large cysts, such as ovarian cysts. Doctors can also perform excisions or drain the cysts. You should never drain a cyst at home, as this can result in infection.

Home remedies for cysts involve putting warm, wet washcloths on the cyst for period of time to help ease the swelling.

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Related Terminology
Abscess: An infected, puss filled, cavity within the body. They are much like pimples, but they can be more dangerous since they can poison the blood stream when they pop!
Excision: To carefully remove a section of infected tissue.
Graft: To perform an excision and then replace the missing tissue with excess tissue taken from other parts of patient's body.



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