Epidermoid cysts are the most common type of cysts. Epidermoid cysts are also called epithelial or sebaceous cysts. They appear as a light tan or yellow bump, and most often occur on the face, scalp, nape of the neck, or back. Most epidermoid cysts are formed by a build-up of keratin (a protein) with no way for the keratin to get to the surface of the skin. The skin cells build up and form a cyst. The contents of the cysts appear cheesy and are often foul-smelling. These cysts never become cancer.
Epidermoid cysts may be watched for years, often cause no trouble, and may go away by themselves. These are benign bumps, which often do not need to be treated. You may want them treated if they become red, tender, or drain. Antibiotics can be prescribed to decrease the inflammation and, in some cases, the cyst will be injected with steroids.
Surgery (Complete removal)
This will leave a scar. As with all minor surgeries, there is a small risk of infection.
Incision and drainage
A small cut can be made over the top of the cyst and its contents drained. This leaves behind the cyst wall, so it will likely recur.
UW Dermatology Department
1 S. Park St 7th Floor
Madison, WI 53715
Clinic: 608 287-2450
American Family Children’s Hospital
Pediatric Dermatology Specialty Clinic
1675 Highland Ave.
Madison, WI 53792
Clinic: 608 263-6420
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #7159.
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Last Updated: 01/10/2013
Copyright © 01/10/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6460
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