Epidermal Cyst



An epidermal cyst may be caused by:

  • Blockage of a hair follicle by skin cells—due to a skin injury
  • Damage to a hair follicle due to acne
Normal Skin Anatomy
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Risk Factors

Acne and skin injuries raise the risk of this type of cyst.



Problems may be:

  • A small, dome-shaped lump beneath the skin
  • Foul-smelling, cheese like material that may drain from the cyst
  • Redness or pain on or around the cyst


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. Some people are sent to a skin doctor.



The cyst may go away on its own. It may need to be treated when it causes problems. This can be done with:

  • Surgery to remove the entire cyst
  • Incision and drainage—to remove the cyst contents, though it may return in time

Antibiotics may be given to treat infection.


There is no way to prevent an epidermal cyst.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.