Skip to main content
Skin cyst

A skin cyst is a lump under the skin caused by a build-up of fluid.

A skin cyst looks like a round lump just under the skin. They can range in size from smaller than a pea to a few centimetres wide.

Most cysts can be left alone. You can use a warm flannel to help it shrink. If the cyst is infected, you may need antibiotics.

Read more on the NHS website.

A skin cyst looks like a round lump just under the skin. They can range in size from smaller than a pea to a few centimetres wide.

What a cyst looks like

A skin cyst is a round, dome-shaped lump. It's yellow or white, often with a small dark plug through which you might be able to squeeze out pus.

Cysts can range in size from smaller than a pea to a few centimetres across. They grow slowly.

Skin cysts do not usually hurt, but can become tender, sore and red if they become infected.

Foul-smelling pus coming out of the cyst is another sign of infection.

Read more on the NHS website.

Most cysts can be left alone. You can use a warm flannel to help it shrink. If the cyst is infected, you may need antibiotics.

Self-care

Cysts are usually harmless. Small cysts that are not causing any problems can be left alone.

Holding a warm flannel against the skin will encourage the cyst to heal and reduce any inflammation.

Do not be tempted to burst the cyst. If it's infected, you risk spreading the infection, and it can grow back if the sac is left underneath the skin.

Medical treatments

See your GP if you think the cyst is infected. You may need a course of antibiotics.

Cysts can be removed at some GP surgeries who offer this service. If your surgery does not offer minor surgery facilities, you may be referred to a specialist, or you could pay for private treatment.

During a cyst removal, a local anaesthetic is used to numb the skin. A tiny cut is then made in the skin and the cyst is squeezed out.

This procedure will leave a scar. The cyst may also grow back, particularly if it was removed from the scalp or scrotum.

Read more on the NHS website.