How Long Do Cysts Last?

The Harvard Medical School defines cysts as small sacks that appear either on a person's skin, an internal organ, or a joint. These sacks are filled with either fluid or "semisolid material" and can cause a wide range of symptoms. Some are associated with chronic conditions, like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and are only one symptom of a larger issue — in the case of PCOS, that issue is an endocrine imbalance. Others, like the ganglion cysts commonly found on the wrists, usually form in response to minor injuries. Still, others appear for seemingly natural reasons, such as those found in the breasts (via

The specific symptoms and treatments associated with cysts depend on the type of cyst. Cystic acne, for instance, can appear just about anywhere acne is prevalent, including shoulders, butt, and arms. The cysts can be red and swollen, and depending on how they are handled, they can leave scars (via the Cleveland Clinic). Treatments include a variety of topical creams, cortisol injections, and in some cases, incisions to drain the cysts. Treatment can take months and depend on the patient, as well as their specific skin type. Other types of cysts, unfortunately, are just as variable.

The location of a cyst is everything

Cystic acne and ovarian cysts are, arguably, the two most well-known types of cysts. As different as they are, however, they can last for roughly the same amount of time. The Cleveland Clinic explains that when it comes to cystic acne, it can take months to remove the cysts. Ovarian cysts take just as long to get rid of, according to the Harvard Medical School. As Johns Hopkins Medicine explains, there is no treatment for PCOS, and ovarian cysts are usually left to go away on their own.

The Harvard Medical School also describes other types of cysts, such as the Baker's cyst (which occurs on or around the knee), Bartholin's gland cysts (which form inside the vagina when a Bartholin gland becomes blocked), and cysts on the kidneys. Some of these cysts go away with minimal at-home treatment, such as warm baths for a Bartholin's gland cyst, and can improve in just a few days (via the Mayo Clinic). Others, like kidney cysts, can go on indefinitely, as long as they do not change or begin to cause uncomfortable symptoms, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The duration of a cyst depends entirely on where it is located, making a general timeline hard to pin down.