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Is This a Cyst or a Boil?

By May 5, 2020May 2nd, 2023Skin Care

An unexplained growth on the skin is often a boil or a cyst, both of which appear as a large bump in the affected area. It can be difficult to tell the difference between these conditions without medical advice, so it’s important to see a dermatologist if you are bothered by this type of blemish.

The Science Behind Cysts

Doctors have recognized hundreds of different types of cysts, most of which are harmless, painless, and slow-growing. However, these growths can occur anywhere on the body and may cause complications depending on location. A cyst appears as a closed, smooth, round bump under the skin. The inside of the cyst may be liquid or partially solid.

Common Types of Cysts

  • – Epidermoid cysts: which affect the chest, back, or face
  • – Pilar: which are firm, dome-shaped cysts on the scalp
  • – Milia: tiny, white hard bumps that occur on the face

Cysts don’t usually need medical treatment unless they lead to other health problems. If a cyst becomes swollen or inflamed, it can be removed with a corticosteroid injection or surgery.

Getting to the Bottom of Boils

Sometimes called a furuncle, a boil is a pus-filled skin bump that develops from bacteria or a virus. A staph bacterium that infects an oil gland or hair follicle is the most common cause of a skin boil. Because of the infection, a person who has a boil may also experience fatigue, fever, and related symptoms. Unlike cysts, boils grow quickly and they usually cause discomfort or pain. Most boils start as a small, red pimple, but they can grow to the size of a fist without treatment. Large boils are called abscesses. When this blemish occurs on the eye, it’s called a stye.

How to Treat a Boil

When you develop a boil, apply a warm compress several times a day for 10 to 15 minutes. Avoid touching the infected area and wash your hands before and after using the compress. Seek medical care right away if your boil worsens, if you have more than one boil, or if it lasts longer than a week.

If you’re struggling with a boil, a cyst, or any other skincare issue, get in touch with the team of dermatologists at The Dermatology Clinic in Baton Rouge. Call (225) 769-7546 or complete our online form to request an appointment.