Dubai, UAE: Antiperspirants that contain aluminium compounds can inhibit sweating but they can also block the sweat glands, potentially leading to the growth of a mass in the underarm area that could include cysts, said Dr Fady G. Haddad, Chief Dermatologist at Dr A.R. Shamma Medical Centre.
However, at the same time, he emphasised that there is no direct relation between the occurrence of cysts and deodorants in general since the latter only mask odours. Dr Haddad explained that cysts are semi-solid cavities with their own wall that form in the skin and can be caused by injury to the skin or a blockage of the pores.
Cysts, however, need to be differentiated from the painful blocked sweat glands that are common in the armpits and are usually caused by the aluminum salt found in antiperspirants,” said Dr Haddad.
Cysts, he said, are filled with a viscous whitish fluid that gives off a pungent odour.
Cysts can become painful due to an inflammation that causes irritation on the surface of the skin as well as due to a cyst pushing against a nerve.
Treatment involves making a small incision to empty the cyst in order to relieve the pressure, pain and infection. “When it heals, two things may happen — either it is completely healed or it can form again as a smaller cyst which requires incision and extraction of the cyst,” said Dr Haddad.
Cysts, he said, may last for years and, compared to other kinds of growth in the underarm area, are not painful.
Nonetheless, he said that cysts left unattended to for years with recurrent inflammation make surgical procedures more challenging.
Similarly, Dr Atul Mathur, a general surgeon in Abu Dhabi, said that cysts can subside on their own, but some are harmless and patients may opt to live with them. He also added that cysts commonly occur in areas such as the thyroid, ovary, mouth, bones and even near the tail bone.
“Sebaceous cysts are one of the more common cysts of the skin. They are caused when the gland secreting sebum at the base of a hair follicle gets swollen due to the blockage of its outlet,” Dr Mathur said.
Both doctors agreed that in most cases, cysts remain benign and are not life-threatening.
Dr Haddad explained the difference between cysts and tumours.
“Cysts feel generally like an eyeball; firm and compressible while tumours feel different on compression since they can be soft or very hard,” he said. “Tumours, whether malignant or benign, are rarely if ever painful while cysts can be.”
However, Dr Mathur said that malignant cysts or benign cysts with underlying malignancy require urgent attention by specialists.
Dr Haddad added that the diagnosis is not obvious in many cases and therefore removing the mass or taking a biopsy is necessary.
© Gulf NewsOct 2015