Cysts are harmless, sac-like growths that develop in the deeper layers of the skin. They initiate in a hair follicle that is blocked. The sac may then contain fluid or solid material. A cyst looks like a small pea under the skin surface and is usually smooth to the touch. Often a cyst can be left on the skin indefinitely without it ever causing a problem, but it can also be surgically removed to avoid potential problems such as infection or inflammation. Sometimes cysts are removed to improve cosmetic appearance.
If the cyst becomes inflamed, it may need to be opened to allow the contents to drain; antibiotics may be necessary to cure an infection if it arises.
Cysts can be removed by making a small surgical opening in the skin and then removing the sac. This is usually done in the office under local anesthesia and often requires the placement of stitches, removed a few days later, leaving a small scar. Occasionally, the cyst may recur after surgery requiring further treatment.