Cysts – symptoms, causes & types


You should know that cysts are sac – like or closed capsule structures. Typically, they are filled with gaseous, liquid or semisolid material and they look like a blister. Cysts happen within tissue. They can affect any part of our bodies. Cysts can vary in size from microscopic to the size of some team – sport balls. If you have very large cysts, then they can displace the internal organs. In the anatomy, cyst can be referred to a normal bag or sac in the body, such as the bladder.

The cyst is not a normal part of the tissue where it is located. Cyst has a distinct membrane and it can be separated from the nearby tissue which is the outer (capsular) portion of the cyst called the cyst wall. If the sac is filled with pus, then it is abscess and not a cyst. Usually, cysts are non – cancerous. Often, This are caused by an infection, clogging of sebaceous glands or around earrings. It is not usual for cysts to cause pain, unless they rupture, become infected or inflamed.



The signs and symptoms of cysts can vary a lot depending on what type of cyst you have. There are many cases in which the person becomes aware of abnormal lump, particularly in cases with cyst of the skin or when the cyst is just below the skin. The person can notice a cyst in their breasts when they examine them by touching them. Often, the breast cysts are painful. There are some cases when cysts in the brain can cause headaches, as well as other symptoms. There are many internal cysts, such as those in the liver or kidneys for which people do not have any symptoms and they go unnoticed until an imaging scan detects them.


Here are the most common causes for cysts:

  • An injury that breaks a vessel
  • A parasite
  • Blockage of ducts in the body that cause fluids to build up
  • Chronic inflammatory conditions
  • A defect in the cells
  • There can be a fault in an organ of a developing embryo
  • Infections
  • Genetic conditions
  • Tumors

In the most cases, cysts are benign and they are caused by blockages in the body’s natural drainage systems. But there are some cysts which can be tumors that form inside tumors and they are potentially malignant. Dermoid cysts and keratocysts are examples of these cysts.


There are different types of cysts and below are given the most common types:

  • Baker’s cysts: These cysts are also known as popliteal cysts. The person who has this type of cyst experiences a bulge and a feeling of tightness behind the knee. Pain gets worse during physical activity or when extending the knee. Usually, the Baker’s cysts are caused by a problem with the knee joint, such as a cartilage tear or arthritis.
  • Tarlov cysts: These cysts are located at the base of the spine and they are filled with cerebrospinal fluid.
  • Arachnoid cysts: It is known that the arachnoid membrane is covering the brain. During the fetal development, this membrane splits or doubles up to form an abnormal pocket of cerebrospinal fluid. There are some cases when doctors need to drain this cyst. This type of cyst may affect newborn babies.
  • Vocal fold cysts: These cysts can interfere with the quality of the person’s speech and sometimes they can cause vocal cord to produce multiple tones simultaneously or hoarseness and breathy speech.
  • Breast cysts: These cysts are often painful and need to be drained. There are some studies in which are said that breast cysts increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Pineal gland cysts: These cysts are benign and they form in the pineal gland of the brain.
  • Acne cysts: These are common types of cysts in which the pores of the skin become blocked and this is leading to inflammation and infection.
  • Colloid cysts: These cysts are having gelatinous material in the brain. Usually, doctors are recommending surgical removal of this cyst.
  • Ovarian cysts: Most ovarian cysts are benign. They can become so large that the woman can look pregnant.
  • Sebaceous cysts: These cysts are usually found on the skin of the scrotum, scalp, back and face.
  • Pilar cysts: These cysts are also known as trichilemmal cysts. They are fluid – filled cysts. They form from a hair follicle and most commonly are found on the scalp.


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