How to Drain a Skin Cyst with a Needle

Have you woken up to a cyst and are looking to find out how to drain a skin cyst with a needle? Before you embark on the complicated and sensitive task of popping and draining a cyst, let’s first go over what cysts are, what causes them and how to prevent cysts from forming.

What are Skin Cysts?

Skin cysts, also known as sebaceous cysts are small bumps under the skin’s surface, most often showing on the face (chin or cheek for example) or shoulders, although they can appear on any part of the body. They almost always start as palish or skin-colored you only recognize them by the bump.

In essence, cysts result from clogging caused by excess oil and dead, old skin cells. At some point, this under-surface clogging can get inflamed when it mixes with bacteria entering from the pore. This manifests by the cyst becoming painful and the skin above the bump becoming red and irritated. It can also start getting bigger rapidly.

The walls of the cyst composed of cells that separate the healthy, surrounding skin from the inflamed area produce a substance which fills the cyst and comes out as a bad-smelling, usually white liquid when you drain it.

People often think that cysts appear due to the same causes. In fact, there are two types of skin cysts:

Sebaceous Cysts

Sebaceous cysts develop around the hair follicles. A hair follicle is a part of the deeper skin layers, which coordinates hair growth. Wrapped to the follicle part are the so-called sebaceous glands, which produce the skin’s natural oil needed for healthy skin – sebum. When these glands start producing more oil than necessary, they start to clog the follicle. This all happens deep down in the skin, which is why skin cysts appear as bumps and aren’t visible on the surface. This also shows that they can appear on any part of the body where there’re hair follicles and that’s pretty much anywhere (except for the foot soles for example)! They often appear on the chin. Sometimes your body can deal with them on its own.

Epidermoid Cysts

Epidermoid cysts, on the other hand, develop from cells of the epidermis – the skin’s outermost layer. A continuous process of skin cell regeneration takes place on the epidermal level. Old skin cells die and shed and are replaced by young cells. This is called cell turnover. However, sometimes, old cells won’t fall off, but end up going back deeper into the skin, causing an epidermoid cyst. These are more common than sebaceous cysts. This is why regular exfoliation to help old cells shed should be part of your skincare routine.

Pillar Cysts

Pillar cysts are a small group comprised of cysts that appear on the scalp. You may discover them (in a painful way, ouch!) while combing, brushing or shampooing. They are mainly filled with keratin, the protein that’s a building block for our hairs and nails. These are mostly hereditary and appear during puberty.   

Another cause of skin cysts can be simply genetics. Unfortunately, if your parents dealt with skin cysts at some point in their lives there are high chances that you’ll be facing this skin condition too. In such cases, you still need to educate yourself about the exact type of cysts you have in order to learn how not to aggravate them and how best to treat them.  

How to Drain a Skin Cyst with a Needle?

When you start training a new sport, one of the first things to learn is how to fall correctly. This is because incorrect falls can lead to fatal injuries. No matter how perfect your technique, you won’t be able to use it at all if you first managed to hurt yourself. It’s the same with learning how to take care of problematic skin. You need to learn first how not to drain a cyst, because if you do it wrong, it will lead to more problems, such as scars for example. In that case, not even the perfectly designed skincare regimen will help you retain pretty skin.

Do you know how not to drain a cyst?

Do not squeeze.

A big mistake is to try to squeeze a cyst. Just like with pimples, never ever squeeze skin cysts with your fingers. Your fingers as the only tool are inadequate to be able to drain the cyst. It will only make it worse by aggravating the irritation or it can result in scars left on your skin after healing.

Do not use tweezers.

Speaking about tools, it won’t be an improvement to pick up a pair of tweezers to squeeze the cyst with. Equally as painful, it won’t help your cyst heal one bit. So, the rule goes: Do not squeeze. With anything. No tool is a good tool for squeezing a cyst on your own.

Do not use needles to pop a cyst.

Draining a cyst with a needle at home has been advocated lately as a way to flatten any type of skin cysts. Widely popular how-to video tutorials circulate on the Internet. The problem is, doctors and skincare professionals are all united in the opinion that this falls in the category of what not to do to a cyst.

First of all, this type of drainage won’t cure the cyst. It will only flatten it out temporarily until new white cells rush to the area and fill it up again.

Moreover, any needles that go inside your skin should be sterile. This is hard to achieve while improvising at home. There’s also the business of how you operate with the needle. Most likely you’ll end up pushing more bacteria inside your skin, which will simply make the inflammation worse than before and more spread out – you can prompt new cysts to form.

Worst case scenario, the cyst can get infected. The surface skin blanket cracks and you’ve earned a super painful complication at your plate. At this point, you’re on the sure road to scar tissue.  

Draining has to be performed by a professional. Depending on the severity of the case, it usually starts by injecting a local anesthetic. A surgical cut through the cyst is then followed by professional drainage. In the process, besides the white liquid filling, the so-cold cyst’s sac is also removed. This means that the wall of cells surrounding the inflammation is also removed, allowing your skin to deal with the rest easier. Usually, then the cyst won’t return. However, if it’s only drained, even after professional drainage the cyst can still come back.

How to treat a cyst beside draining?

If all of the above holds, then what can you do to help your skin deal with that ugly bump? Read on to find out.

Leave it be

Skin cysts are not cancerous and removal isn’t always a must. If there is no inflammation yet and depending on its location, you may as well leave the bump in peace. A sebaceous cyst especially can disappear by itself if left alone.

Schedule at the doctor’s

However, if the cyst becomes especially painful or when you’ve gotten a cyst for the first time, you know it’s time to consult a doctor.

They’ll ask you a range of questions including about family history regarding skin cysts. Eventually, the doctor can determine the exact type of cyst you’re dealing with and suggest a treatment. Usually, you have two options:

  • The so-called I&D, which stands for “incision and drainage”. Incision is simply a term for a type of surgical cut. This procedure is done under local anesthesia and it involves the steps described above. Make sure you follow closely the recovery guidelines afterward. The post-care mainly involves antibiotics to prevent infection.
  • Laser removal is another option that a dermatologist might recommend to you. Usually, a laser is preferred in cases when the cyst is in a tricky location. It basically entails the same procedure of drainage, except it’s done with the help of a laser. It’s followed up by surgical removal of the cyst’s sac after the spot has cleared up in a month or so.

Warm compresses to drain a skin cyst

Gently wash the area of the cyst before applying warm compresses for about 1o to 15 minutes. Simply use a clean towel to make it wet in hot water and leave it at the affected area. The compress shouldn’t be too hot as to burn the skin. Repeat this three times a day. The practice is supposed to encourage natural drainage.

Prevent future cysts

While not all factors that lead to the appearance of cysts in the skin fall within our control, there are some measures you can take.

Try to avoid spending time in direct sunlight. People who are more often exposed to the sun are found to be at greater risk for developing skin cysts.

Avoid wearing too tight clothes.

Refrain from excessive waxing, especially in areas where you have gotten cysts previously.

Avoid using oil-based skincare products, especially if you suffer from cystic acne.