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
|Normal Skin Anatomy|
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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
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.
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.
American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.org
Family Doctor–American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org
Canadian Dermatology Association http://www.dermatology.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
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.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
- Review Date: 09/2019
- Update Date: 07/28/2020