Cysts and boils may appear similar, but a dermatology care provider can help you determine the difference and an appropriate treatment. If you have a cyst or boil that requires treatment, schedule an appointment with the experts at West Sound Dermatology in Poulsbo, Washington. 

What is a Cyst?

A cyst is a small lump filled with fluid. There are several types of cysts which can affect the skin or other parts of the body. There are three primary types of skin cysts.

  • Epidermal cysts
  • Trichilemmal cysts, which occur on the scalp
  • Milia, which are very small and typically occur on the face. 

What is a Boil?

A boil is the result of a bacterial infection around a hair follicle. They may resemble a cyst, but are typically swollen and sore. Yellow pus may be present in or around the boil, and advanced cases can cause fever or fatigue. 

Treatments for Cysts and Boils 

Some cysts and boils will resolve without treatment. Your dermatologist may recommend applying a warm compress to the growth to encourage healing. 

If a cyst persists, it can be removed through a simple surgery. Your provider will first use a local anesthetic to numb the area before carefully removing the cyst through a small incision. 

Severe or persistent boils may be treated using antibiotics. 

What are risk factors for epidermal cysts?

Anyone can develop an epidermal cyst, but there are some risk factors that may make you more susceptible. These risk factors can include injuring the skin or having certain rare genetic disorders. Some people tend to make multiple cysts. Cysts most commonly affect adults ages 20-60 years old.

Are skin cysts dangerous?

Epidermal cysts are harmless. Complications of cysts can occur and include inflammation, infection and spontaneous cyst rupture.

Can a cyst be hard like bone?

Cysts are firm movable bumps under the skin, they are not hard like bone.

Can an epidermal cyst go away on its own?

Typically, epidermal cysts do not go away on their own without surgical removal. However, sometimes cysts will shrink on their own and most cysts are asymptomatic, so no treatment will be necessary.

Can a skin cyst turn into cancer?

Cysts are typically harmless and will not become cancerous.

Do cysts move under the skin?


Do you need stitches after cyst removal?

You will usually require stitches after a cyst excision.

How do you get rid of skin cysts?

Typically, cysts are removed by surgical excision.

Does Cyst Removal leave scar?

Any surgical excision can leave a scar.

Schedule an Appointment

To learn more about cysts and boils and your treatment options, schedule an appointment at West Sound Dermatology. Call our Poulsbo, Washington office at (360) 824-5474 to schedule your first visit.

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