Epidermoid cysts (also known as epithelial, keratin, or sebaceous cysts) are benign lumps that develop beneath the skin. These cysts are common, slow-growing lesions that affect individuals of all ages. They can occur anywhere on the body, but most frequently on the face, neck, and trunk.

Cyst 1

Cyst Signs and Symptoms

Epidermoid cysts are round, skin-colored growths, often with a tiny blackhead plugging the central opening. Within these cysts, there is a thick, yellow, “cheesy”, often foul-smelling material. These cysts may become red, swollen, and tender when inflamed or infected.

Causes of Cysts

Epidermoid cysts may form due to damage or blockage of a hair follicle. They are usually caused by a buildup of the protein keratin. The keratin is the thick, yellow substance that sometimes drains from the cysts.

Self-Care for Cysts

Avoid squeezing or trying to express the material from within the cyst, as this may cause further inflammation and lead to potential infection.

Treatment for Cysts

You should seek medical attention if the cyst becomes irritated, painful, or infected. You may also desire to undergo cyst removal if the lesion is in a location that is cosmetically bothersome.

Treatment options for cysts include:

  • Injection of steroid directly into the cyst to reduce inflammation,
  • Incision and drainage of a cyst for immediate reduction, or
  • Cysts removal by surgical excision (the only definitive treatment).

If you are interested in learning more about treatment options for your cysts, please call Heller Dermatology & Aesthetic Surgery to schedule your appointment!