(Epidermoid Cyst; Epidermal Inclusion Cyst; Epithelial Cyst; Keratin Cyst)
DefinitionAn epidermal cyst is a type of slow-growing lump underneath the skin. This cyst contains soft, cheese-like skin contents. These usually appear on the face, neck, chest, upper back, genitals, or behind the ears. Similar cysts called pilar cysts often occur on the scalp.
- Blockage of a hair follicle by skin cells—When an injury to the skin occurs, cells from the surface may block hair follicles located deeper within the skin.
- Damage to a hair follicle due to acne
- Blockage or defect of the sebaceous gland—This gland is near the hair follicle. It secretes oily material used to lubricate the skin and hair.
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Risk FactorsAcne and skin injuries increase your risk of developing an epidermal cyst.
SymptomsIf you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to a cyst. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
- Small, dome-shaped lump beneath the skin
- Foul-smelling, cheese-like material draining from the cyst
- Redness or tenderness on or around the cyst if it becomes inflamed
DiagnosisYou will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. In most cases, the diagnosis can be made by looking at it. You may be referred to a dermatologist. This is a doctor who specializes in skin disorders.
TreatmentTalk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
- Surgical excision—The doctor removes the entire cyst, including its contents and cyst wall.
- Surgical drainage—This involves cutting open the cyst, and draining the contents. The cyst might come back, though.
- Antibiotics—These may be prescribed if the cyst has become in infected.
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