While not much fun, and not great to look at, most of us will get boils and cysts at some point during our lifetime. If you find yourself with something unidentified on your skin, you may be wondering what it is. I’ll give you a brief overview of the differences between the two, what causes them, and the most common forms of treatments for each. Of course, I’m not a doctor so you will want to talk to your doctor whenever you have an unidentified object on your person.

Cysts are closed sac structures that aren’t a normal part of the area they are located, they shouldn’t be there. It’s common to have cysts, and they can show up anywhere in the body and at any age. Cysts generally are filled with gaseous, liquid, or semi-solid substances. Cysts can vary in size from microscopic to big enough to fight for room with other organs in your body. The cysts outer wall is referred to as the capsule.

Cysts can be caused by many things, here are some of the most common causes:

1. When the blood flow is restricted in a certain area of the body a cyst may form.

2. When you have an infection it can lead to the formation of a cyst.

3. Some inherited conditions can cause cysts to form.

4. Any inflammatory conditions can make conditions perfect for the formation of cysts.

5. Birth defects. Cysts can form when the organs are developing within the embryo.

Often times a cyst is found by the person themselves, just feeling and odd lump or bump may be a sign that there is a cyst present. Internal cysts, those on organs, aren’t often detected at all and have no signs. They aren’t found until some sort of diagnostic imaging takes place such as an x-ray, ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan – usually by accident when these tests are performed to diagnose another issue.

The vast majority of cysts are benign and aren’t dangerous. Sometimes they can grow so big that they put pressure on other internal organs and that can cause problems. If you find that you have odd ‘lumps or bumps’ and /or you have pain in the area, you can talk to your doctor so that he can diagnose and treat the issue.

The treatments for cysts will vary depending on their size and location as well as their cause. Generally, cysts will either be drained or removed surgically. Sometimes your doctor may take a small portion of the cyst to analyze it and make sure that it isn’t cancerous.

A boil is an infection on the skin that starts in an oil gland or hair follicle. The skin will redden and a lump will form. After about a week the lump will collect pus under the skin and turn white. When you have groups of boils it is called a carbuncle, and this is a more serious infection.

Boils are caused by germs entering the skin through small nicks and cuts and are most common in people with some chronic health issues such as diabetes, compromised immune system, bad hygiene practices, and continual exposure to irritating chemicals.

If you start running a fever, or you have a grouping of boils you should see your doctor right away since this is a sign of a serious infection and may need some aggressive treatment.

Boils can frequently be taken care of right at home if you don’t have any underlying health issues. Just apply warm washcloths to the boil, this will help alleviate some pain and will draw the pus to the surface, so the boil can burst. When the boil is draining make sure to keep the area around it clean, apply antibacterial ointment, and keep covered with a bandage. Don’t try to pop, or lance, the boil yourself since you will likely only make the infection worse.

While not the sexiest of topics, boils, and cysts, are things that happen to most people, and knowing what they are, and aren’t, as well as how to prevent them or cure them will make the experience less daunting the next time it happens to you.

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