Cysts on the surface of your skin can be irritating and painful. While it may be tempting to pop or puncture these cysts to drain them, that can lead to infections and scarring. If you have a cyst that is bothering you, then the best thing to do is to see a doctor for treatment. There are also some things that you can try at home to encourage a cyst to drain on its own and to care for a cyst as it heals.

Anesthetize the area. Getting a cyst drained requires local or general anesthesia, depending on the severity of the cyst. Before draining your cyst, your doctor will administer a local or general anesthesia to prevent you from feeling any pain from the procedure. For a small skin cyst, only a local anesthesia may be necessary, and these procedures can often be performed in the doctor’s office. If the cyst is deep or large, then general anesthesia may be necessary. This may require a hospital visit, but is usually a day surgery.

Make the incision. After the area has been anesthetized, your doctor will make an incision in the cyst using a sterile surgical knife. The incision will allow your doctor to drain the contents of the cyst and remove the cyst wall if necessary. Removing the cyst wall may help prevent the cyst from returning.

Place a drainage tube if necessary. In some cases, it may be necessary to place a drainage tube in order to allow a cyst to continue to drain for a few days. Your doctor will secure the tube using stitches and the opening will be less than a ¼ inch (6 mm) in diameter. This process is called “marsupialization.”

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