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.
Normal Skin Anatomy
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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:
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 April 11, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
Cysts. DermNet NZ website. Available at: http://dermnetnz.org/lesions/cysts.html. Updated February 22, 2014. Accessed September 2, 2015.
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 2, 2015.
Luba MC, Bangs SA, Mohler AM, Stulberg DL. Common benign skin tumors. Am Fam Physician. 2003;67(4):729-738.
Zuber TJ. Minimal excision technique for epidermal (sebaceous) cysts. Am Fam Physician. 2002;65(7):1409-1412.
Last reviewed September 2015 by James Cornell, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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