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Cyst Removal

Safe and Effective Cyst Treatment in the San Diego Area

Dr. Melanie Palm is a nationally recognized dermatologist serving patients in the San Diego area. She specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of many skin conditions including sebaceous cysts. Dr. Palm’s offices are located in Solana Beach, just north of San Diego, CA.

What Are Cysts?

A cyst is a sac-like pocket of tissue that contains fluid or other substances. They are a common type of skin lesion that can occur anywhere on the body but most often appear on the scalp, face, neck, and trunk. Cysts usually appear as skin nodules, often with a central pore. They are freely moveable underneath the skin and are usually shiny and smooth when pressure is applied to the affected area. They may drain clear to bloody discharge and often pus or cheesy-material may be expressed. Most cysts are benign (non-cancerous).

Types of Cysts

There are literally hundreds of different types of cysts. They can appear just about anywhere and can sometimes occur as part of another condition. The most common types of cysts Dr. Palm diagnoses and treats include:

Sebaceous Cyst (also known as Pilar or Epidermal Inclusion cysts)

Sebaceous cysts are one of the most common types of cyst. Most often found on the scalp, they can also form on the face, neck, chest, stomach, or back. They are slow growing and usually painless unless they become infected or form in a sensitive area. Sebaceous cysts are caused when a hair follicle becomes plugged with oil, sweat, dirt, and dead skin cells.


Also known as a calcifying epithelioma of Malherbe or pilomatrixoma, this benign growth is typically found on the face, neck or arms. It appears as a very firm nodule and is sometimes slightly pink. It occurs more commonly in children, with girls being more frequently affected than boys. These cysts often have calcium and bony-like growth in them and therefore are very firm (often rock hard) when touched.


Milia are small cysts. They appear most frequently on the face, especially around the eyelids. They appear as very small (1-4 mm) white, firm bumps. They cannot be easily removed, and usually require a dermatologist to extract them. Milia can be caused by too vigorous exfoliation of the face, abrasive scrubs, or overly-moisturizing creams. Milia can also occur in areas where the skin has been inflamed. They can sometimes occur after cosmetic laser procedures including photodynamic therapy or laser skin resurfacing and are easily removed. Pre-treatment with a topical retinoid such as Atralin, Kinerase tretinoin, or Retin-A can ease removal.

Vollure® Filler Injections, Art of Skin MD
Cyst, Art of Skin MD

How are Cysts Removed / Treated?

Whether or not a cyst requires treatment and/or removal depends on a number of factors, including:

  • the type of cyst
  • where the cyst is located
  • whether or not the cyst is causing pain or discomfort
  • whether or not the cyst is infected

Inflamed cysts can be treated with dilute injected steroid. Cysts may be drained, but draining does not cure or remove the cyst. Cysts are analogous to having a water balloon under the skin – the “balloon” must be removed in order to cure the cyst. Cyst removal requires a simple surgical excision completed in the office under local anesthesia.

If you are in the San Diego area and would like to discuss treatment and removal options, call Dr. Melanie Palm at 858.792.SKIN (7546) to schedule your appointment.