Cysts are common and may occur anywhere on the skin, especially the back. A cyst is an invagination of skin, which forms a sack beneath the skin’s surface. Because the lining of this sack consists of normal skin, it continues to shed skin cells just like our skin does. These dead skin cells become compressed and as more accumulate, the cyst grows into a lump. Occasionally, if the sack ruptures beneath the skin, an inflammatory reaction results that causes pain, redness, and drainage of a smelly fluid containing the dead skin cells. If this happens, you should see your dermatologist for treatment to decrease the risk of secondary infection and scarring.
Although cysts are considered benign and can be watched without treatment, they can also be removed by simple surgery. During this outpatient procedure, the cyst is numbed with local anesthesia, and then its sack is carefully dissected out of the skin through a small incision. Once removed, the wound is stitched and a small scar results. Surgical excision is the most definitive way to remove cysts. If they are simply drained, they will refill over time.