A cyst is a closed sac with a membrane and separated from nearby tissue. Cysts may contain fluid, air, fat, pus, worms, hair, bone or foreign chemicals. There are literally hundreds of different types found in almost every body part.Dr. Brouse
Types of cysts
There are various types of cysts. Common locations include in the skin, in the breasts, or on the ovaries, testes, prostate, kidneys or spine. Most cysts are benign. However, these masses sometimes may be neoplasms or sudden new growths and possibly cancers. Examples include dermoid (clear fluid filled on the surface of the skin), keratocyst (or calcifying odontogenic cysts. Having removed hundreds of superficial cysts from my patients over the years I often sent suspicious specimens in for biopsy analysis.
Ganglion cysts are common, noncancerous masses or lumps found in the hand. These cysts — which grow out of ligaments, tendon sheaths and joint linings — are filled with a thick fluid. The most common location is on the back of the wrist. However, they may appear in various places on and near the hand, such as at the end joint of a finger or at the base of a finger.
Ganglion cysts may disappear or rapidly change size and can become larger with increased wrist activity, or they may become smaller with hand inactivity.
Sebaceous cysts are another common, noncancerous type of cyst. A foul
odor may be secreted from the outside skin of the cyst. Sebaceous cysts grow slowly and usually are not painful; thus, treatment is rarely needed. However, options are available if these cysts become painful or have an unacceptable appearance.
What causes a cyst?
Common causes of cysts include infections, chemical exposure or defects during fetal development.
As an example, Sebaceous cysts arise from sebaceous glands that secrete oily matter that lubricates the hair and skin. These cysts, which may be hereditary, are caused when glands or hair follicles become blocked. Trauma to the skin is another likely cause of a cyst. These cysts appear as small bumps beneath the skin. Although they can occur almost anywhere on the body, they typically appear on the face, neck and trunk.
Cyst on ovary
A cyst on the ovary most commonly appears as sacs filled with fluid and are located within or on the surface of an ovary. The contents of this fluid often has measurable xenoestrogens, foreign chemicals masquerading as estrogens.
A cyst on the ovary is a common occurrence for many women, as the abnormal function of the menstrual cycle typically causes cysts. Ovaries create follicles (immature eggs) each month which produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Under the influence of stress, a follicle continues to grow inside the ovary and turns into a cyst instead of a viable egg. They often cause discomfort in puberty and if chronic cause considerable discomfort, blood loss and lead to an ovary removal if not caught in time.
A cyst may be treated conservatively or may require surgical removal.
A biopsy is required to determine whether a cyst is benign or malignant. When surgery is not indicated for cyst removal, I often recommended home care with one or several types of treatment.
Severe cysts may require lancing, the act of cutting the cyst open with a lancet or other sharp instrument, followed by treatment with sterile bandages. Secondary infections after lancing are of concern until the cyst has drained completely. Suspicious cysts are often diagnosed using needle aspiration. Fluids and substances drawn from a cyst are tested for infection and evidence of uncontrolled cell growth.
Epidermoid and pilar cysts, which originate in the skin and hair follicles, may cause lumps under the skin but often do not require surgical removal. Treatment for ganglion cysts typically is not necessary, but there are treatments available if the cyst becomes painful or has an unacceptable appearance.
There are a number of conservative techniques specifically for superficial skin cysts. Internal or unconventional appearing cysts may require excision or punch biopsy. Here are some home techniques that have been helpful for many patients;
A healthy acne treatment uses naturally derived salicylic acid to penetrate pores, clearing up blemishes and protecting against future breakouts. Plus, a healthy acne treatment promotes a healthy oil/moisture balance so, over time, skin looks cleaner, clearer, and smoother.
Even if you don’t experience acne, it helps to condition skin to prevent other types of skin eruptions. Ideal for both teens and adults, it contains targeted botanicals, including extracts of licorice, burdock, watercress, tea tree oil, and manuka oil, as well as vitamins B6, A, and E, and zinc gluconate.
Cleanse the skin thoroughly before applying. Cover the entire affected area with a thin layer one to three times daily. Because excessive drying of the skin may occur, start with one application daily, then gradually increase to two or three times daily if needed or as directed by a physician. If bothersome dryness or peeling occurs, reduce the application to once a day or every other day. I have had this work for many people with
Simple heat is the most recommended and effective home measure for draining or shrinking cysts.
Here’s how it works: Heat may reduce the thickness of liquid in the cyst. In the case of liquid-filled epidermoid cysts, this may help fluid drain quicker into the lymphatic system. This system helps maintain fluid balance in the body and plays a role in protection against infection.
Keep in mind
Though this remedy is widely recommended by doctors and reputable sources, there are still no large studies testing or scientifically showing how it is so effective.
Although this method isn’t guaranteed to drain or reduce the appearance of a cyst, it may help response when combined with other conservative treatments.
- Heat clean water to a warm or hot temperature, not boiling.
- Wait for the water to cool to a tolerable, but hot, temperature for skin contact.
- Dampen a clean cloth with the water and apply to the cyst for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Repeat a few times each day.
Essential oil from the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) may help some cysts, by drying out the tissue or killing any infectious agent.
Research shows tea tree oil has antimicrobial activity. This means it kills bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other pathogens.
Some cysts are caused by ingrown hairs. These form when hair follicles don’t grow properly, leading to infection of a sebaceous gland. This creates a pus pocket that may become a cyst, referred to as a sebaceous cyst.
- Dilute tea tree essential oil in clean, warm, or hot water. Dilution ratio is two to three drops per 1 ounce of water.
- Apply the mixture directly to the cyst several times per day with a clean cloth.
You can also combine tea tree oil applications with the above hot water compress remedy. Simply add essential oil to the hot water in the proper dilution ratio.
Avoid applying undiluted tea tree essential oil directly to the cyst or skin. This may cause discomfort, irritation, or burns. Always dilute this oil before topical use.F
Apple cider vinegar is another recommended natural remedy. It may help with cysts to a limited extent.
But, like tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar is shown to be antimicrobial. More specifically, the acetic acids in it are antimicrobial, according to one in vitro study. In vitro simply means that the studies were performed in a test tube rather than in a natural environment.
- Mix equal parts water with apple cider vinegar.
- Apply this dilution directly to the cyst several times per day.
You can combine apple cider vinegar applications with the hot water compress home remedy. Simply add the apple cider vinegar to the hot water in the proper dilution ratio.
Never apply undiluted apple cider vinegar directly to skin. Acetic acids may cause discomfort, irritation, or burns.
Research shows that aloe vera has confirmed anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Both may help with pain and irritation in cysts.
Aloe vera may also help reduce appearance or get rid of certain cysts caused by bacteria or other pathogens.
Following label directions, apply a pure aloe vera gel, cream, or lotion directly to an irritated or painful cyst as often as needed.
Only source aloe products from reputable and trustworthy companies.F
Oil from the castor plant (Ricinis communis) may help cysts in the same vein as apple cider vinegar or tea tree.
Research shows castor oil is antimicrobial. It’s notably effective at killing bacteria that live in the skin, which can cause acne and cysts.
Make sure to source a 100 percent pure castor oil product. Only purchase products from trustworthy companies with good reputations.
- Put one drop of castor oil on your finger and apply to the cyst.
- Apply more if needed, as often as needed. A few times each day is recommended.
NOTE: Avoid ingesting castor oil, which is toxic when consumed internally.
These properties could also benefit epidermoid cysts. It’s possible that witch hazel’s astringent tannins may help shrink them, while anti-inflammatory effects could ease pain.
- Dab a cotton ball with witch hazel.
- Apply to the cyst area.
- Repeat a few times per day or as often as you would like.
People with sensitive skin may have reactions to witch hazel, but this can be avoided by diluting witch hazel with water.
One method is to create a poultice by mixing honey, preferably raw and all-natural, with other antimicrobial herbs and ingredients. You then apply the mixture to the cyst and leave it on overnight.
Alternatively, try this simpler technique:
- Put a dab of pure honey on the cyst site.
- Leave the honey on the cyst for a few hours, as a longer amount of time may help it to be more effective.
- Wash the honey away, and apply more as often as you would like.
Some home remedies can help with certain aspects of cysts, or specific types. Hot water compresses are most recommended by reputable sources.
If you have sensitive skin, do a skin patch test: Apply a small amount of the test solution to your forearm, and then wait for 24 hours to see if you have an allergic reaction. Though these are rare, they could happen.
If a home remedy causes discomfort, irritation, or other unusual symptoms, discontinue use immediately. Talk to your natural doctor instead about cyst treatment. Remember that the only proven way to conservatively remove a cyst is to have it done by an experienced natural physician.
Join Dr. Brouse on his Teleclinic titled “CYSTS” Zoom on March 19, 2019 at 3:30 PM Pacific Time.