A cyst is a closed pocket or pouch of tissue. It can be filled with air, fluid, pus, or other material.
Cysts may form within any tissue in the body. Cysts within the lung generally are air-filled, while cysts involving the lymph system or kidneys are fluid-filled. Certain parasites, such as trichinosis, dog tapeworm (Toxocara canis), and echinococcus, can form cysts within the muscles, liver, brain, lungs, and eyes.
Cysts are common on the skin. They develop as a result of infection, clogging of sebaceous glands (acne-related cysts), or around a foreign object stuck in the skin.
See also: Pilonidal dimple
Habif TM. Principles of diagnosis and anatomy. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 1.
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.