(Epidermoid Cyst; Epidermal Inclusion Cyst; Epithelial Cyst; Keratin Cyst)
An epidermal cyst is a 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.
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
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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.
- Common benign skin lesions. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/common-benign-skin-lesions. Accessed May 25, 2022.
- Cutaneous cysts and pseudocysts. DermNet NZ website. Available at: https://dermnetnz.org/topics/cutaneous-cysts-and-pseudocysts. Accessed May 25, 2022.
- 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 ;107(5):391-399.
- April Scott, NP
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