An 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.
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Acne and skin injuries increase the risk of developing an epidermal cyst.
An epidermal cyst may cause:
You 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.
Some epidermal cysts do not need treatment. If needed, treatment options may include the following:
There is no way to prevent an epidermal cyst. If any of the cyst wall is left behind after drainage, the cyst may come back. If this happens, the doctor may decide to remove the cyst using surgery.
American Academy of Dermatology
Family Doctor–American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Dermatology Association
Common benign skin lesions. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T908545/Common-benign-skin-lesions. Updated July 24, 2017. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Cysts. DermNet NZ website. Available at: http://dermnetnz.org/lesions/cysts.html. Updated February 2016. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Cysts—epidermoid and pilar. The British Association of Dermatologists website. Available at: http://www.bad.org.uk/for-the-public/patient-information-leaflets/cysts---epidermoid-and-pilar?q=Cysts - epidermoid and pilar. Accessed September 1, 2017.
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Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD Last Updated: 9/2/2015