Unfortunately, there is not much preventive care for cysts. Good hygiene, washing regularly and taking care of your skin is the basic regimen to keep up. So if one does develop, despite your squeaky clean skin, there are a few courses of treatment you can pursue [source: Mayo Clinic].
One treatment is no treatment at all, since cysts are usually not harmful or painful. And though it might be tempting to take care of it on your own by popping it like a pimple, this is not recommended -- for cysts or for pimples -- because it damages the skin and might lead to infection or scarring. Plus it doesn't guarantee that the cyst won't return [source: Mayo Clinic].
If you're not ready to see a doctor, but want to try something, applying a warm, wet towel to the cyst might help in clearing it up [source: MedlinePlus: Sebaceous]. But if it doesn't, and you really want it gone, see your doctor. He or she will have a number of treatments that should be able to clear it up. If it is inflamed, it can be injected it with steroids to reduce the swelling before treating it further.
Your doctor might simply drain the pus, although this leaves the cyst intact and allows for the possibility of its return [source: Mayo Clinic]. To remove the cyst completely, the doctor can do a procedure called excision where he not only drains the pus, but also removes the inner sac -- the lining of the cyst wall -- so that it doesn't grow back [source: American Academy of Family Physicians]. If all else fails, your doctor might use a laser to vaporize the cyst [source: Mayo Clinic].
All of these various treatments are in-office procedures that don't require a hospital stay, and, at most, will require local anesthesia with possibly a few stitches.
To learn more about cysts and other types of underarm lumps, visit the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Academy of Family Physicians. "Minimal Excision Technique for Removal of an Epidermoid Cyst." AAFP. April 1, 2002. (Accessed Sept. 27, 2009)http://www.aafp.org/afp/20020401/1423ph.html
- eCureMe. "Sebaceous Cyst." 2003. (Accessed Sept. 27, 2009)http://www.ecureme.com/emyhealth/data/Sebaceous_Cyst.asp
- Hanson, Linda J. "Epidermal Inclusion Cyst." June 9, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 27, 2009)http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1061582-overview
- Mayo Clinic. "Epidermoid Cysts." June 6, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 27, 2009)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sebaceous-cysts/DS00979
- MedicineNet. "Definition of Axilla." Feb. 15, 2001 (Accessed on Sept. 27, 2009)http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=2410
- MedlinePlus. "Armpit Lump." Aug. 2, 2009 (Accessed Sept. 27, 2009)http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003099.htm
- MedlinePlus. "Lymph System." April 13, 2009 (Accessed on Sept. 27, 2009)http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002247.htm
- MedlinePlus "Sebaceous Cyst." April 12, 2007 (Accessed Sept. 27, 2009)http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000842.htm
- Moynihan, Timothy. "Tumor vs. Cyst." Jan. 9, 2009 (Accessed Sept. 27, 2009)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tumor/AN00463
- University of Rochester Medical Center. Cyst Animation; Dermatology Lexicon Project. (Accessed Sept. 27, 2009)http://www.futurehealth.rochester.edu/dlp2/DLPdict/animations/cystAnim.htm