Skin cyst

Skin cysts are round lumps, often filled with fluid or pus. They're usually harmless and often do not need treatment. But see a GP if you have an unexplained lump.

Check if it's a skin cyst

Skin cysts:

  • are round lumps just underneath the skin
  • often contain fluid or pus
  • sometimes have a small, dark spot in the middle
  • grow slowly and vary in size from smaller than a pea to several centimetres across
  • can get sore or red if they get infected – the redness may be harder to see on black or brown skin

Check if it's a skin cyst

Check if it's a skin cyst

Check if it's a skin cyst

Skin cysts can form on most areas of the body, including the head, face, neck, chest and back. It's also possible to get them on the scrotum or inside the vagina.

See a GP if:

  • you have a lump on your skin and you do not know what it is

Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if:

  • you have a sore or red lump on your skin

You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Treatments for a skin cyst

Skin cysts do not need to be treated if they're not causing any problems.

But treatment may be recommended if you have:

  • an infected skin cyst – you may be given antibiotics
  • a large, painful cyst which interferes with everyday life – for example, a cyst on your head that catches when you brush your hair

Skin cyst removal

If you have a large, painful skin cyst which is making everyday tasks difficult, you may be able to have it removed on the NHS.

If it's not causing any problems but is on a visible part of your body, such as on your face, you may choose to have it removed. But you'll probably have to pay for this privately.

Local anaesthetic is used to numb the area around the cyst before it's cut out. You'll have a small scar after the wound has healed.

You may also get new skin cysts in the future.

Treatments for a skin cyst


Do not squeeze a skin cyst. If it bursts it could become infected, or if it's already infected you might spread the infection.

Types of skin cyst

There are lots of different types of skin cyst. Here are some of the main types.

Types of skin cyst

Causes of skin cysts

Anyone can get a skin cyst and it's not always known what causes them.

You may be more likely to get a skin cyst if:

  • a family member also has cysts (particularly pilar cysts)
  • you're an adult, particularly in middle age
  • you're a woman
  • you have acne
  • you have a rare condition, such as Gardner syndrome

Skin cysts are not cancerous and you cannot get them from someone who has one.