Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

A cyst can form anywhere in the body and range widely in size.

A cyst can form anywhere in the body and range widely in size.
beginning of content

Cysts

A cyst is a sac or pocket in your body filled with fluid, semi-solid material or air.

Cysts are common and can form in any part of the body.

They can be microscopic or grow to the size of tennis balls or even melons.

Cysts are different from abscesses or boils, which are filled with pus. Most cysts aren’t cancerous.

Types of cysts

There are hundreds of types of cysts. Different types of cyst form in different parts of the body.

Some of the common types are:

What causes a cyst

Cysts are caused by blockages that lead to a buildup of fluid or air. The blockages can be due to infection, genetic conditions, inflammatory conditions, parasites or tumours. Some people get cysts around body hairs or piercings for earrings.

Cyst symptoms

Your symptoms will depend on what type of cyst you have and where it is. Most cysts don’t have symptoms, but you may become aware of a lump or bump, especially if the cyst is on or below your skin or it’s painful.

Some cysts cause pain, especially if they grow and cause pressure.

Cyst diagnosis

If you think you may have a cyst you should see a doctor because some cysts need treatment and some are cancerous.

Depending on the type of cyst and where it is, your doctor may suggest imaging tests such as an X-ray or ultrasound to help diagnose it.

Cyst treatments

The treatment your doctor suggests will depend on the type of cyst, where it is situated in the body, and how painful or uncomfortable it is. Many cysts disappear without needing treatment.

Depending on where it is situated, your doctor may be able to drain a large, painful or uncomfortable cyst with a needle. Very large cysts, or cysts that could be cancerous, may need to be surgically removed.

In some cases, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, the underlying medical condition that has caused the cysts needs to be treated.

The Australian College of Dermatologists recommend if your skin cysts are infected, you may need antibiotics. For more information, speak to your doctor or visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.

Do not try treating a cyst yourself by squeezing and bursting it.

Last reviewed: May 2017

Recommended links

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 166 results

Cysts

Cysts may be as small as a blister or large enough to hold litres of fluid.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Cysts - ganglion cysts - Better Health Channel

A ganglion cyst is the most common lump on the hand, and tends to target women between the ages of 20 and 40 years of age.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Baker's cyst

Baker's cysts of the knee don't always require active treatment and sometimes will only require observation by the treating doctor.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Kidney Cysts

Cystic kidney disease is a group of diseases that cause abnormal pockets of clear,   watery fluid (cysts) to form in the kidneys. In cystic kidney disease, multiple cysts form   in both kidneys.

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Digital myxoid cysts - ACD

A digital myxoid cyst is an entirely benign, non-cancerous swelling that usually occurs at the base of the nail on the fingers or toes. Digital myxoid cysts are not catching and they are not a sign of infection. They do not develop into skin cancer.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Epidermoid cyst - ACD

An epidermoid cyst is a benign walled-off cavity filled with keratin which originates from the hair follicle unit.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Learn About Your Condition - Baker's Cyst

When your knee produces too much synovial fluid, the excess fluid causes the bursa behind the knee to expand and bulge. This is a Baker's cyst.

Read more on MOVE muscle, bone & joint health website

Polycystic ovary syndrome - myDr.com.au

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects females in their reproductive years. It may cause irregular periods, excess hair growth and cysts on the ovaries.

Read more on myDr website

Skin Coloured Skin lesions

Skin Coloured Skin lesions include neurofibroma & cysts

Read more on My Skin Check website

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) | myVMC

Polycystic kidney disease is an inherited disorder in which cysts grow on and enlarge the kidneys causing hypertension and kidney failure.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback