Don’t Take Your Lumps (and Bumps); Leave Them to the Skin Care Pros

Lumps and bumps on the skin are having a moment. They’re starring on YouTube and cable TV, not to mention filling up Instagram feeds across the country.

But back in the real world, the question persists: what should you do if you find a cyst on your body? Or if there’s a squishy, golf-ball sized lump on your back that doesn’t seem to resolve itself?

Here’s the good word: Do not try to extract a lump, a bump, a cyst or a I-don’t-know-what-it-is at home. Period. According to Dr. Jason Papenfuss, a board-certified skin specialist at Midwest Dermatology, lumps and bumps under the skin should always be evaluated – and removed – by an experienced dermatologist.

So, if your lump is new, or if it’s tender, painful or growing, make an appointment with your Midwest Dermatology specialist to have it evaluated. Here’s what they might find:

Epidermal Cysts

Imagine the feeling of a large pea growing under your skin and you can understand what a cyst feels like. These non-cancerous bumps are actually made up of your skin’s own dead cells, which normally shed from your body. But, instead, a small sac forms under the skin and fills up with dead cells, as well as pus or liquid, and voila, you’ve got a cyst!

Cysts can become irritated, inflamed, start to itch or cause pain. Or they might sit there and be cyst-like. Whatever their state of being, most of us just want them to vamoose. But should you try to be your own “pimple popper” at home? Hear us on this one – absolutely not.

The reason is that cysts are complicated. Squeezing or puncturing them at home can lead to infection and scarring. Dr. Papenfuss, who’s successfully removed hundreds of skin growths, says a trained dermatologist will almost certainly recommend one of these solutions:

  • Watch and wait – if your cyst is not irritated, infected or suspicious we might recommend that you simply leave it alone. But you definitely should keep a close eye out for any signs of growth or infection. Most cysts eventually become large enough or painful enough to demand additional treatment.
  • Injection – with a tiny poke, a small dose of steroid medication is injected right into the cyst, reducing inflammation and size. This is often a temporary solution because the cyst sac remains in the skin. But it can relieve pain and discomfort.
  • Incision and drainage – Here’s where you definitely need a professional. Your doctor – aka, “the pro” – makes a small cut in the cyst and gently squeezes out the cyst’s contents. This is a fairly quick and easy method, but cysts may also recur after this treatment.
  • Minor office surgery – Your Midwest Dermatology doctor can excise the entire cyst. Excising is safe and effective and usually prevents cysts from recurring. If your cyst is inflamed, Midwest Dermatology may start you on antibiotics first.


Slightly further up the gross-out scale, you’ll find lipomas. A lipoma might just look like a bigger, squishier lump, but it’s actually a benign fatty tumor.

Lipomas differ from cysts in that they tend to be painless and do not get infected or inflamed – but they may feel like a lump of dough under your skin. They are harmless but can be bothersome due to their size. It’s when lipomas start to grow – and they can get really big! – that minor surgery to remove them is considered.

Know for Sure

If you notice a lump or site that is swelling anywhere on your body, it’s essential to have it checked by your doctor. Lumps and bumps in and on your skin are usually nothing to sweat, but your Midwest Dermatology specialist is here to let you know for sure if it’s something more serious. Call 402-933-0800 or schedule an appointment using our convenient on our website.


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