BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuEpidermoid cystEpidermal cyst; Keratin cyst; Epidermal inclusion cyst; Follicular infundibular cystAn epidermoid cyst is a closed sac under the skin, or a skin lump, filled with dead skin cells. Causes Epidermal cysts are very common. Their cause is unknown. The cysts are formed when the surface skin is folded in on itself. The cyst then becomes filled with dead skin because as the skin grows, it can't be shed as it can elsewhere on the body. When a cyst reaches a certain size, it usually stops growing. People with these cysts may have family members who also have them.These cysts are more common in adults than in children.Sometimes, epidermal cysts are called sebaceous cysts. This is not correct because the contents of the two types of cysts are different. Epidermal cysts are filled with dead skin cells, while true sebaceous cysts are filled with yellowish oily material. (A true sebaceous cyst is called a steatocystoma.) Symptoms The main symptom is usually a small, non-painful lump beneath the skin. The lump is usually found on the face, neck, and trunk. It will often have a tiny hole or pit in the center. It usually grows slowly and is not painful.If the lump becomes infected or inflamed, other symptoms may include:Skin redness Tender or sore skin Warm skin in the affected area Grayish-white, cheesy, foul-smelling material that drains from the cyst Exams and Tests In most cases, the health care provider can make a diagnosis by examining your skin. Sometimes, a biopsy may be needed to rule out other conditions. If infection is suspected, you may need to have a skin culture.BiopsyA skin lesion biopsy is when a small amount of skin is removed so it can be examined. The skin is tested to look for skin conditions or diseases. A...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Skin cultureA skin or nail culture is a laboratory test to look for and identify germs that cause problems with the skin or nails. It is called a mucosal culture...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Treatment Epidermal cysts are not dangerous and do not need to be treated unless they cause symptoms or show signs of inflammation (redness or tenderness). If this occurs, your provider may suggest home care by placing a warm moist cloth (compress) over the area to help the cyst drain and heal.A cyst may need further treatment if it becomes:Inflamed and swollen -- the provider may inject the cyst with steroid medicine Swollen, tender, or large -- the provider may drain the cyst or do surgery to remove it Infected -- you may be prescribed antibiotics to take by mouth Possible Complications Cysts may become infected and form painful abscesses.AbscessesAn abscess is a collection of pus in any part of the body. In most cases, the area around an abscess is swollen and inflamed.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Cysts may return if they are not completely removed by surgery. When to Contact a Medical Professional Call your provider if you notice any new growths in your body. Although cysts are not harmful, your provider should examine you for signs of skin cancer. Some skin cancers look like cystic nodules, so have any new lump examined by your provider. If you do have a cyst, call your provider if it becomes red or painful.Open ReferencesReferencesDinulos JGH. Benign skin tumors. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 20.James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM. Epidermal nevi, neoplasms, and cysts. In: James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 29.Patterson JW. Cysts, sinuses, and pits. In: Patterson JW, ed. Weedon's Skin Pathology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Limited; 2021:chap 17.AllVideoImagesTogRelated Information Abscess(Condition) Review Date: 4/14/2021 Reviewed By: Elika Hoss, MD, Senior Associate Consultant, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- © 1997- All rights reserved. A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.