What's in a cyst? - warning Tuly Gross!!

In a period of madness I watched a YouTube vid of a cyst being cleared. I haven’t shared this as an active link to avoid accidental clicks. Be warned…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEeMJgV75nQ

For those too squeamish/sensible to watch it I can tell you it shows a man with a huge golf-ball sized cyst on his back and a woman, who has obviously done this before, opening it up with a scalpel and squeezing out the contents before poking her gloved finger in the hole and scraping it out :eek:

What I don’t know is what sort of vile stuff is this? The cyst doesn’t look at all inflamed and the man is not screaming his head off so I guess it is not an abscess. Is this stuff going to smell bad?

A lot of it, I’d guess, are white blood cells. They’ve found a foreign body and attacked it. The pressure you get is from the cells trying to basically push it out of your body.

Could be sebum (skin oil), but there’s no way I’m watching the video to check.

If it’s the same vid I saw a while back, I’d guess bloody cottage cheese.

I saw that one awhile back on ‘popthatzit daht com’, fwiw. Quite the squirter!

The ‘discharge’ is mostly dead/broken-down white-cells along with lymph, old blood-components, and whatnots. A body will (usually) try to wall off the infection and/or contents and the pressure builds within the ‘cyst’, leading to squirting when it is opened. DIfferent bacteria can cause different coloration(s) to the goo, and I have seen most colors of rainbow during drainings (lots of hands-on clinical experiences).

The more-notable ones IME were the ones that drained BRIGHT green fluids - not a good scent to them, either. Many times we had to open ALL the doors to outside for a long time to get the stench cleared :eek:

Not the best technical terms, I know, but probably helps a bit. If there are cells ‘decomposing’ within, it will most likely stink.

I have a small cyst that I drain occasionally. Believe me, this stuff STINKS!
Still, it feels good while doing the draining. Kinda like popping a pimple…

A pimple is a cyst, is it not?

When I read the title, I thought this was going to be about dermoid cysts, which can contain skin, hair, and teeth.

But sebaceous cysts are pretty gross, too.

What causes a cyst?

In the vein of all those “if you could go back in time…” type threads, if one wanted to earn a reputation as a witch/warlock who could curse superstitious people with noxious boils, what would be involved? (Assuming an adequate “exit strategy” for dealing with the torches, pitchforks and pressing stones that may eventually follow?)

Have them hang out in gyms and don’t wash your hands?

Most boils are caused by staph infections.

You forgot the part where the cyst sprays on initial puncture and the nurse pauses has to clean herself up. And I can’t get over how much pus was in there. It was like a softserve ice cream machine.

No high-def? What a bummer.

Oh my god! How can you have all that crap in there without running a fever and ending up in the hospital or something? It looks like really thick soap foam almost.

(I admit I giggled when she first punctured it, and it sprayed a little bit)

if the infection is compartmentalized, between layers of tissue, and not near a circulatory system then it might stay localized

That “capsule” that she punctured essentially keeps the immune system from “seeing” the localized infection. It’s the body’s way of sealing things off so they don’t spread. It’s also why DIY drainage isn’t recommended - if you accidentally burst the capsule on the inside, the contents can leak into the body instead of draining out, and then you can end up with a wider infection.

My SO’s got many of them all over, and one on the back of his head literally the size of a ping pong ball. He keeps his hair a bit long back there, and you don’t really notice it, but it startles hairdressers if he forgets to warn them. He’s had it over 40 years.

I so badly want to drain it, just for fun.

Why doesn’t he go and have it drained?

What, and break the suspense for when it possibly bursts on its own?

So it sounds like if you DIY you run the risk of spreading infection more widely? Is that correct? If so, I guess I was lucky. I had a bean-sized one in the middle of my spine and speared it with an Xacto blade (talk about contortionism), drained it and for a couple of days it was the same, and now has almost totally gone away. My wife freaked out, thinking I might have opened up some sort of potentially malignant growth. For a minute there, she had me going too.

Inertia. Years without medical insurance. “It ain’t botherin’ me, I ain’t botherin’ it.” Doctors at the VA are far more interested in his other medical issues than a benign cyst. Having had it most of his life, it’s part of his self-image now, and self-image is hard to change without good cause. Take your pick. He tells me if I want to drain it, I’m welcome to, but that’s a bit outside my scope of practice, and being so near his brain, I’m not actually going to do that without need. And a lot of Jack Daniels.

That would be awesome. And very gross.

Yeah, that’s what They say.

OTOH, ganglion cysts, a close cousin of sebaceous cysts that form on the wrist, used to be called “Bible bumps”, because the treatment of choice was to put your hand on the kitchen table and thump the cyst with the largest heaviest book you had - The Holy Bible. The impact would often rupture it, and the contents would be reabsorbed into the body. Not the current standard of care, but since ganglion cysts don’t usually have bacteria in them, not quite as dangerous as it sounds.

I’m not watching any cyst videos either, but dealing with cysts and their contents are a typical part of my job as a pathologist (ovarian cysts especially).

Probably the most common superficial cysts are epidermal inclusion cysts (a.k.a. sebaceous cysts). What they contain is an accumulation of keratin - the protein that forms a thin covering on your skin, is a component of your nails etc. The stuff in epidermal inclusion cysts is whitish and cheesy-looking and somewhat stinky. If punctured they will collapse but often refill and enlarge again (doing this deliberately can result in scarring and a bigger mess, so if the cyst is annoying or cosmetically significant, getting it excised professionally is a good idea).