Cyst: what it is, types (ovary, pilonidal, uterus) and treatment


What is cyst?

The word “cyst” comes from the Greek Kystis, which means cyst, sac. It is a kind of closed bag that stores a liquid, semi-solid or pasty content, being generally characterized as a benign tumor, that is, non-cancerous.

It commonly arises on the skin, but it can also develop within any other tissue in the body. In addition, some parasites can form cysts within the muscles.

Its growth is slow and can arise through infection, obstruction of sebaceous glands or around foreign bodies in contact with the skin. They can also be the result of abnormalities, such as the pilonidal cyst .

In general, cysts do not require treatment. In situations that require more care, doctors can use needle aspirations or surgical removal to treat them.

In cases where the cyst is filled with pus, the condition is called an abscess .

Types of cysts

Ovarian cyst

Quite common, the ovarian cyst is a pouch with liquid content that can form inside, outside or on the ovary. This condition arises when there is a lack of hormonal control and rarely interferes with ovulation. It commonly affects women who have reached adulthood and have pelvic inflammatory disease or have endometriosis .

In these cases, surgery is only indicated if the cyst is 10 cm or more, with solid and liquid areas.

There are some types of cyst in the ovary, among them:

  • Follicular cyst: occurs when the mature follicle recedes or when ovulation does not happen;
  • Cystadenoma: can reach more than 10 cm in diameter and develops in the ovary tissue;
  • Corpus Luteum Cyst: emerges from the ovulatory follicle, which secretes progesterone after the egg is released;
  • Hemorrhagic cyst: occurs when there is bleeding from the cyst wall into the cyst itself;
  • Dermoid cyst: usually formed by elements of the dermis and epidermis, such as bones, teeth, hair, among others;
  • Endometrioid cyst: is formed when a small piece of endometrial tissue bleeds, detaches and grows in the ovary.

Ovarian cyst and pregnancy

Normally, ovarian cysts develop on their own and medical intervention is unnecessary, as they can cause a little discomfort at most, without interfering with ovulation. Some women live with the cyst for years, without even knowing that they have it.

However, there are cases that can be worrisome when it comes to pregnancy. Depending on the size of the cyst, there is a risk of even an abortion. Malignant cysts can pose risks to the mother and the fetus, and must be monitored by a specialist throughout the pregnancy.

Are ovarian cyst and polycystic ovary the same thing?

While the ovarian cyst is characterized by having a single pouch with liquid content, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a disease in which the ovaries increase in size and have several pouches filled with liquid or semi-solid material, being one of main causes of the difficulty to get pregnant.

Also known as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome, PCOS still presents physical disorders and hormonal imbalances, being, simultaneously, its cause and consequence.

Cisto de Baker

It is basically caused by the accumulation of the liquid contained inside the joints (synovial fluid), in a small bag behind the knee, causing swelling. This condition is related to joint problems, a common discomfort for those who have arthritis or have already suffered an injury in which the knee cartilage has been compromised.

Over time, the knee joint wears out, making inflammation possible and increasing synovial fluid. When its quantity becomes excessive, it is pushed to the posterior region of the joint, forming a herniation, known as a Baker’s cyst.

Pilonidal cyst

Pilonidal cyst is a relatively common variant of the dermoid cyst. It consists of a pouch lined with epithelial cells, which contains sebaceous glands, sweat glands and skin fragments, such as hair. It is located near the division of the buttocks, a few centimeters above the anus and is more common in men aged 15 to 30 years.

One of the causes of this cyst is the presence of hair that passes through the skin and stays in the subcutaneous layer. Because it is a foreign body, it causes an inflammatory reaction. In addition, sitting for a long time also contributes to the formation of cysts in the region.

Cyst on the skin

Also known as sebaceous cyst , the cyst on the skin is a few centimeters, rounded in shape and can appear in any region of the body. It is as if it were a small ball that forms under the skin, being possible to touch it, press it and even move it from place. This type of cyst does not usually cause pain, except in cases of infection.

The sebaceous cyst can arise when there is an increase in cystic content in the sebaceous glands, close to the hair follicle, located in the dermis or epidermis. When inflamed, they can be painful and must be removed by surgery.

The sebaceous gland produces an oily matter, called sebum, to lubricate and waterproof the skin and hair. Cysts can develop if the gland or its duct, the passage through which the oil comes out, is damaged or blocked. This usually happens because of some trauma in the region (scratches, cuts, wounds) or skin conditions, such as acne .

Genetic diseases, such as Gardner’s syndrome or basal cell nevus syndrome (SNBC), are also considered to be contributing causes.

The most common places to have a cyst like this are:

  • On the face: they must be treated by a dermatologist in order to avoid an infection;
  • On the back: most of the times they need surgical treatment because they are larger than those located in other regions;
  • In the head: they are usually benign, but after removing them with surgery, the doctor can analyze them to check for the possibility of cancer.

Read more: Sebaceous cyst: how to treat and which remedies to use ?

Purely on mom

Small benign breast change, cysts on the breast are quite common and, in general, have no symptoms or require treatment. They are an accumulation of fluid, which generates greater sensitivity or causes a small localized pain.

Usually the cysts in the breast are small and appear around the menstrual period, making the breasts painful. In these cases, they are not usually palpable, but they can be detected by ultrasound, without representing clinical problems.

In cases of larger cysts that cause constant pain or interfere with exams, such as mammography , needle removal may be necessary. These will only be a cause for concern when they are associated with a solid component called “vegetation”, which is found within the accumulation of liquid.

Cyst in the jaw

Also known as keratocyst , it is a benign tumor, but with an aggressive aspect. It results from cellular debris in the teeth and often affects the posterior mandible.

Purely aracnoide

This type of cyst has a congenital nature, that is, it is still formed in the fetal phase, due to a defect in the valve of the arachnoid membranes, in which they assist the passage of cerebrospinal fluid (fluid present inside the brain).

In the vast majority of cases, arachnoid cysts have no symptoms, and no intervention is necessary. However, there are rare situations that result in headaches, dizziness and an excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid.

Bartholin’s cyst

Bartholin’s glands emit fluid that acts as a lubricant in sexual intercourse. The fluid travels through small tubes, called ducts, in the vagina. If the ducts become blocked or damaged, they can fill with fluid and expand, forming a cyst.

Usually, a Bartholin’s cyst has no pain or symptoms, and can heal spontaneously. However, when the liquid becomes infected, the area becomes swollen, painful and red, and may release pus.

Cyst on the eyelids (Chalazion)

The cyst on the eyelids is caused by inflammation and obstruction of the meibomian gland, which is located on the upper or lower eyelid, and is responsible for producing tears.

The causes associated with obstruction of the exit of the gland vary between hormonal factors, until the lack of hygiene in the region of the eyes. Food, especially excess carbohydrates , is also a factor to consider.

Renal cyst

The renal cyst is characterized by being a bag coated with liquid or air, located in one or two kidneys. Usually the alteration is smaller than 3 cm, caused by hereditary or acquired (not inherited) factors.

Among the various types that can develop in this region are:

  • Solitary cysts, which contain fluids and sometimes blood (rare);
  • Cysts caused by tubular blocks;
  • Cysts formed due to dilation of blood vessels (usually present in people with renal vascular diseases);
  • Simple renal cyst, filled only with liquid and in a regular (most common) manner.

In acquired cysts, renal cysts are common in people over 50 and even more frequent in those over the age of 60.

Often, renal cysts do not cause symptoms. However, in rare cases, the patient may experience low back pain , bleeding and infections.

Other types of cysts include:

  • Cisto testicular;
  • Cysticercal cysts;
  • Vocal cord cyst;
  • Cystic dentist;
  • Cisto dermoides;
  • Colloid cyst;
  • Cisto glial;
  • Epididymal cyst;
  • Tarlov cyst (spine);
  • Mucoid cyst;
  • Periapical cyst;
  • Paratubar cyst (uterine tube);
  • Pillar cyst (scalp cyst);
  • Hydro cyst;
  • Root cyst;
  • Synovial cyst (joints and tendons in the hands / feet);
  • Peritoneal cyst (in the lining of the abdominal cavity);
  • Pineal cyst.


There are several causes for the appearance of cysts, which can vary according to their type. Among the main ones are:

  • Genetic conditions;
  • Tumors;
  • Infections;
  • Errors in embryonic development;
  • Cellular defects;
  • Chronic inflammatory conditions;
  • Duct blocks in the body;
  • Parasites;
  • Injuries.

Risk factors

Cysts can occur in people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. Because there are several types, it is difficult to list specific factors, and their evolution is directly linked to the underlying causes of their formation.

However, cases of infections, tumors, chronic inflammatory conditions and certain inherited diseases can lead to the development of cysts.


Smaller cysts located on the inside of the body may not produce symptoms. However, there are those that can be felt, such as the epidermal cyst. In these cases, they can be recognized as nodules or collisions, most of the time painless.

Some cysts also produce symptoms related to where they are located, such as cysts in the liver and kidneys, for example. If the cysts appear due to a serious infection, tumor or chronic disease, the symptoms depend on the location, type and extent of the disease.

When should I see a doctor?

When you notice any abnormality, swelling, pain or redness, seek medical help. The provider may recommend appropriate diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the cyst. Unusual growths can be cancer , and the sooner you remove it, the greater the chances of a cure.

How is the diagnosis made?

Many specialists are able to diagnose cysts, it all depends on where they are located, their underlying cause, composition and size. Such professionals include: obstetrician, gynecologist, otorhinolaryngologist, surgeon, orthopedist, gastroenterologist, dermatologist, infectologist.

The most used tests for diagnosis are:

  • Ultrasound;
  • X ray;
  • Computed tomography;
  • Magnetic resonance imaging.

In some situations, needle biopsy can be used to determine if a malignant tissue is associated with the cyst’s structure.

What is the treatment for the cyst?

Treatment will depend on the region, size, level of discomfort and the underlying cause of each cyst.

Most of them do not require clinical measures, however, doctors can use means such as:

  • Aspiration or drainage of fluids, using a needle or catheter;
  • Use of medications, such as cortisone injections, to reduce an inflamed cyst;
  • Surgical removal.

In which cases is surgery indicated?

In the case of detection of cancer cells or when drainage does not work, surgical removal or biopsy may be requested. In addition, internal cysts that are difficult to reach, as well as those that are very painful, large or uncomfortable, may require surgery.

Cysts associated with infectious agents interfere with normal body functions and are also on that list.

Home treatment

Although most cysts disappear over time, some home remedies can help with treatment. Placing a hot water compress on the cyst, for example, can be a great alternative, as the measure speeds up the healing process and aids drainage.

There are also several options for home remedies for the treatment of some types of cysts, such as tea tree oil, castor oil and aloe vera.

It is worth remembering that medical monitoring is essential. It is always advisable to consult with your health professional before starting any treatment.

What not to do

Squeezing or popping a cyst can worsen its underlying cause, causing it to swell or even to become infected.


Cysts are usually benign and not harmful. However, the cyst becomes really worrying when it is considered to be malignant and carcinogenic.

In addition, if a cyst grows too much, it can impair the functioning of the organs, requiring immediate removal.

Can cysts cause cancer?

Most of the time, cysts are benign tumors and are not usually related to cancer. However, if they are larger than 10 cm and have solid and liquid areas, they can represent a high risk situation.

From an oncological point of view, only cysts with solid content can be severe. In the case of cysts located in the breasts, for example, the vast majority are not capable of becoming cancer. However, depending on their size, they may have malignant potential.

How to prevent cysts?

Most cysts cannot be prevented. However, in cases related to infectious causes, there are measures that can act in prevention:

  • Ovarian cyst: women who are subject to having ovarian cysts may be able to prevent the formation of new cysts by using hormonal contraceptives;
  • Cyst on the eyelids (chalazion): gentle cleaning near the lash line helps to keep the oil ducts blocked, preventing the appearance of the cyst;
  • Pilonidal cyst: can be prevented if the skin is kept clean and dry in the affected region. Avoiding sitting for a long time is also a good alternative to prevent its formation.

Cysts, in most cases, even if they are boring and uncomfortable, are not malignant, but medical monitoring is essential to keep up with your body and prevent any major complications.

Share this text so that more people can be aware of it!