Cyst vs Abscess

Cyst and abscess are two similar mass formations filled with puss, fluid or other elements. Both are bumps emerging on the skin and tend to make the skin sore and tender. Externally, it is difficult to differentiate and one needs a biopsy to be able to tell one from another.


Cyst is sac-like structure that develops from unrestrained cell mutation. It can arise in different body parts like joints area, skin surface, near organs etc. It can be filled with fluid, semifluid, semisolid or gaseous material.


Resembling a bladder-shaped pouch, it develops from and in the form of tissues. Due to its membrane, it remains distinct from the tissue near which it grows. It can be miniscule or large enough to displace internal organs.




A common cause of cyst is any kind of blockage in the ducts or drainage systems of the body which leads to fluid build-up. However, some cysts develop as tumors within tumors. These are comparatively more harmful.


Cysts may originate due to numerous other factors like bacterial infection, cancer, vessel breakage, tumors, chronic inflammatory conditions, cell defects, genetic conditions, scar tissue formation, damage of hair follicles, blockage of sebaceous gland etc.




Usually, cysts do not severely harm the skin. However, when developing in some vital areas of the body, they may prove extremely detrimental. In such cases, they can cause irritation and mature into a sore. When cysts get infected, inflamed or rupture, these become painful.


The symptoms of a cyst also highly depend on its location. Skin cysts are abnormal lumps which will be easily noticeable. Similarly, breast cysts may be observable and cause pain and tenderness of breasts. Ovarian cysts may cause menstrual irregularities. Brain cysts may lead to headaches along with other symptoms whereas liver or kidney cysts may not show any symptoms.




Cysts differ from those that are harmless and require no treatment to those that are not only seriously damaging but can also prove fatal. Generally, cysts disappear on their own; only some require a cure and there are several treatments for the same. Antibiotics do not work for cysts; however, it is possible to surgically get them removed.


Abscess is swollen area in body tissues filled with puss, bacteria or dead cells. It is gentle mass which causes discoloration of the surrounding area turning it pink or red. Its size varies from small to large. People prone to infections, like those with a weak immune system, are prone to abscesses. Armpits, teeth areas, base of spine and groin areas are the most vulnerable sites for its formation.




Foreign microorganisms can damage tissues of the body which can result into an abscess. It is akin to an infection caused by bacteria while our immune system is attempting to combat the bacteria. Abscesses are caused by infections and hence contain pus. They form due to pus accumulating under skin. Other reasons may include obstruction of sweat or sebaceous glands, minor breaks of skin or inflammation around a hair follicle which develops into an abscess.




Abscesses are warm-to-touch and acutely painful, particularly, when growing in the vital organ areas. They are palpable with a touch of your finger. They can cause swelling, redness or tenderness in the affected skin area. Originating from infections, these are usually sore and red from the beginning. There may be hair follicles inside these bumps of swelling.




Despite being comparatively gentler, abscesses require medical attention. They can be cured with antibiotics that clear up the root infection. A complete draining process called lancing also allows cleaning of the root infection. One needs to deeply understand the factors that lead to abscess formation.

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