Epidermal Cyst

Overview

Definition

An epidermal cyst is lump under the skin. It has soft, yellow matter inside. They often happen on the face, neck, chest, upper back, genitals, or behind the ears.

Causes

It 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.

SymptomsandDiagnosis

Symptoms

Problems may be:

  • 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

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. You may be sent to a doctor who treats skin problems.

Treatments

Treatment

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, including its contents and cyst wall.
  • Incision and drainage to remove the cyst contents, though it may return in time

Antibiotics may be given to treat infection.

Prevention

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.

a (Epidermoid Cyst; Epidermal Inclusion Cyst; Epithelial Cyst; Keratin Cyst)

RESOURCES

American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.org 

Family Doctor–American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Dermatology Association http://www.dermatology.ca 

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca 

References

Common benign skin lesions. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  https://www.dynamed.com/condition/common-benign-skin-lesions  . Updated February 5, 2018. Accessed November 25, 2019.

Cysts. DermNet NZ website. Available at: http://dermnetnz.org/lesions/cysts.html. Updated February 2016. Accessed November 25, 2019.

Moreno-Ramírez D, Ruiz-Villaverde R, et al. A. process of care for patients with benign cysts and tumors: Consensus document of the Andalusian Regional Section of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV). Actas Dermosifiliogr. 2016 Jun;107(5):391-399.