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Epidermoid Cysts: Causes, Diagnosis, And Removal Solutions

  • June 27, 2023
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Epidermoid Cysts: Causes, Diagnosis, And Removal Solutions

Epidermoid cysts are a common skin condition that affects many people. These cysts are usually harmless and noncancerous, but they can be unsightly and cause discomfort if they become infected. Epidermoid cysts are small, round bumps that form just beneath the skin. They are filled with a soft, white, cheese-like substance called keratin and can vary in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters in diameter.

The exact cause of epidermoid cysts is not known, but they are believed to form when skin cells become trapped beneath the surface of the skin. They can occur anywhere on the body, but are most commonly found on the face, neck, chest, and back. Epidermoid cysts are more common in adults than in children, and they tend to occur more frequently in men than in women.

If left untreated, epidermoid cysts can become infected and inflamed, causing pain, redness, and swelling. In some cases, the cysts may rupture, releasing the keratin-filled material into the surrounding tissue and causing further irritation. Fortunately, there are several effective treatment options available for epidermoid cysts, including surgical removal, steroid injections, and laser therapy.

Causes of Epidermoid Cysts

Epidermoid cysts are non-cancerous bumps that develop beneath the skin’s surface. The cysts are commonly found on the face, neck, and trunk. They are caused by the growth of skin cells, which are trapped beneath the surface of the skin.

The exact cause of epidermoid cysts is unknown, but it is believed that they develop from hair follicles or skin cells. These cells produce a protein called keratin, which forms the cyst’s wall.

In some cases, epidermoid cysts may be caused by a genetic disorder called Gardner syndrome. This condition causes multiple cysts to develop throughout the body, including the skin.

Trauma to the skin, such as a scratch or puncture wound, may also cause an epidermoid cyst to develop. In some cases, a cyst may form as a result of acne or other skin conditions.

Overall, epidermoid cysts are usually harmless and do not require treatment unless they become inflamed or infected. However, if a cyst is causing discomfort or is located in a visible area, it may be removed surgically.

In summary, epidermoid cysts are caused by the growth of skin cells that produce keratin. They may be caused by a genetic disorder, trauma to the skin, or other skin conditions. While they are usually harmless, they may be removed if they become problematic.

Symptoms of Epidermoid Cysts

Epidermoid cysts are usually small, round bumps that develop under the skin. They can appear on any part of the body, but are most commonly found on the face, neck, and trunk. These cysts are usually painless and do not cause any serious health problems. However, in some cases, they can become inflamed or infected, causing redness, pain, swelling, and tenderness in the affected area.

One of the most common symptoms of an epidermoid cyst is the presence of a small, round bump under the skin. This bump is usually painless and can range in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters. The cyst may also have a tiny blackhead plugging the central opening, which is caused by the buildup of keratin and oil inside the cyst.

When an epidermoid cyst becomes inflamed or infected, it can cause redness, swelling, and tenderness in the surrounding area. The cyst may also produce a thick, yellow, smelly material that sometimes drains from the cyst. In severe cases, the cyst may become painful and may require medical treatment.

It is important to note that not all epidermoid cysts cause symptoms. In fact, many people may have these cysts and not even know it. However, if you notice any unusual changes in your skin, such as the appearance of a new bump or the development of redness or tenderness in an existing bump, it is important to see a doctor. They can diagnose the cyst and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Diagnosis of Epidermoid Cysts

Epidermoid cysts are usually diagnosed by a dermatologist who can identify them by examining the skin. The dermatologist may also use a microscope to examine the cyst or take a skin sample (biopsy) for detailed analysis in the laboratory.

Ultrasound may be used to determine the contents of the cyst, especially if it is large. An ultrasound can also help distinguish the cyst from other skin lesions, such as lipomas or sebaceous cysts.

The symptoms of an epidermoid cyst include a small, round bump under the skin, usually on the face, neck, or trunk. The cyst may have a tiny blackhead plugging the central opening, and it may contain a thick, yellow, smelly material that sometimes drains from the cyst. If the cyst is inflamed or infected, the area may become red, swollen, and tender.

It is important to differentiate an epidermoid cyst from other skin lesions, such as an infundibular cyst or a sebaceous cyst. A differential diagnosis can be made by examining the cyst and determining its location, size, and contents.

In some cases, a punch biopsy may be necessary to remove a small amount of tissue from the cyst for examination under a microscope. This is done to rule out the possibility of cancerous cells.

Overall, the diagnosis of an epidermoid cyst is usually straightforward and can be made by a dermatologist based on the appearance of the cyst and its location. If there is any doubt, a biopsy or ultrasound may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

Differences Between Epidermoid and Dermoid Cysts

Epidermoid and dermoid cysts are both types of cysts that can develop in various parts of the body. While they share some similarities, there are also some key differences between the two.

Epidermoid Cysts

Epidermoid cysts, also known as sebaceous cysts or epidermal cysts, are benign lumps that form beneath the skin. They are typically small, round, and filled with keratin, a protein that is found in skin, hair, and nails. Epidermoid cysts usually develop on the face, neck, or trunk, but they can occur anywhere on the body.

The most common symptoms of epidermoid cysts include a small, round bump under the skin, a tiny blackhead plugging the central opening of the cyst, and a thick, yellow, smelly material that sometimes drains from the cyst. In some cases, the cyst may become inflamed or infected, causing redness, swelling, and tenderness in the affected area.

Dermoid Cysts

Dermoid cysts are also benign lumps that form beneath the skin, but they are different from epidermoid cysts in several ways. Dermoid cysts are typically larger than epidermoid cysts, and they can contain a variety of different types of tissue, including hair, teeth, bone, and sweat glands.

Dermoid cysts can occur anywhere on the body, but they are most commonly found in the ovaries, testicles, and head and neck region. Unlike epidermoid cysts, which are usually painless, dermoid cysts can sometimes cause pain or discomfort, especially if they become infected or grow large enough to put pressure on nearby organs or tissues.

Differences Between Epidermoid and Dermoid Cysts

The following table summarizes some of the key differences between epidermoid and dermoid cysts:

Epidermoid CystsDermoid Cysts
BenignBenign
Small, round, and filled with keratinLarger and can contain hair, teeth, bone, and sweat glands
Usually develop on the face, neck, or trunkCan occur anywhere on the body, but most commonly found in the ovaries, testicles, and head and neck region
Usually painlessCan sometimes cause pain or discomfort
Rarely become infectedCan become infected
Typically do not require treatmentMay require surgical removal if they become large or cause symptoms

It is important to note that while both epidermoid and dermoid cysts are usually benign, there is a small risk that they could be malignant (cancerous). In rare cases, epidermoid cysts can develop into squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. Dermoid cysts are not known to be associated with cancer, but in some cases, they may be a sign of an underlying genetic condition called familial adenomatous polyposis.

In summary, epidermoid and dermoid cysts are both types of benign lumps that can form beneath the skin. While they share some similarities, there are also some key differences between the two, including their size, location, and contents. If you have a cyst that is causing pain, discomfort, or other symptoms, it is important to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Treatment and Removal Solutions

Epidermoid cysts are usually harmless and do not require treatment unless they cause discomfort or cosmetic problems. The treatment options for epidermoid cysts include:

Injection

Injection of a steroid medication into the cyst can reduce inflammation and swelling. This treatment can be effective for reducing the size of the cyst.

Incision and Drainage

If the cyst becomes infected or inflamed, the doctor may recommend draining it. This involves making a small incision in the cyst and draining the fluid. The cyst may be packed with gauze to keep it open and allow it to continue draining.

Antibiotics

If the cyst becomes infected, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Antibiotics can help reduce inflammation and prevent the infection from spreading.

Surgery

If the cyst is causing pain or discomfort, or if it is large and unsightly, the doctor may recommend that the cyst be surgically ablated. The most common surgical procedures for removing epidermoid cysts are surgical excision and incision and drainage.

Surgical Excision

Surgical excision involves removing the entire cyst and the surrounding tissue. This procedure is usually performed under local anesthetic, and the patient can go home on the same day.

Incision and Drainage

Incision and drainage involves making a small incision in the cyst and draining the fluid. The cyst may be packed with gauze to keep it open and allow it to continue draining. This procedure is usually performed under local anesthetic, and the patient can go home on the same day.

In conclusion, the treatment options for epidermoid cysts depend on the severity of the cyst and the symptoms it causes. If the cyst is causing pain or discomfort, or if it is large and unsightly, the doctor may recommend surgical removal. If the cyst is not causing any symptoms, the doctor may recommend leaving it alone.

Potential Complications

Epidermoid cysts are generally harmless and do not cause any complications. However, in some cases, they can become inflamed, tender, and swollen, even if they are not infected. If the cyst ruptures, it can lead to pain, redness, and discharge of a foul-smelling fluid.

Infection is another potential complication of epidermoid cysts. If the cyst becomes infected, it can lead to the formation of an abscess, which is a collection of pus. Symptoms of an infected cyst include pain, redness, swelling, warmth, and fever. In some cases, the infection can spread to other parts of the body and cause serious health problems.

Scarring is another possible complication of epidermoid cyst removal. Although the risk of scarring is low, it can occur if the cyst is removed improperly or if the wound becomes infected. To minimize the risk of scarring, it is essential to follow proper wound care instructions after the removal procedure.

Bleeding is another potential complication of epidermoid cyst removal. Although bleeding is rare, it can occur if the cyst is located near a blood vessel. To prevent bleeding, the doctor may apply pressure to the area or use a cautery tool to seal the blood vessel.

Recurrence is also a possibility after epidermoid cyst removal. Although the risk of recurrence is low, it can occur if the entire cyst is not removed or if a new cyst forms in the same location. To minimize the risk of recurrence, it is essential to follow proper wound care instructions and to have any new cysts evaluated by a doctor.

In summary, epidermoid cysts are generally harmless and do not cause any complications. However, in some cases, they can become inflamed, infected, or rupture. Complications such as scarring, bleeding, and recurrence are also possible after cyst removal. It is essential to follow proper wound care instructions and to have any new cysts evaluated by a doctor to minimize the risk of complications.

Prevention and Aftercare

Preventing epidermoid cysts is not always possible, as they can occur for various reasons. However, maintaining good skin hygiene and avoiding skin injuries can help reduce the risk of developing epidermoid cysts.

If a person has a history of epidermoid cysts, they should inform their healthcare provider. The healthcare provider may recommend regular skin checks to monitor any changes in the skin.

After the removal of an epidermoid cyst, the wound should be kept clean and dry to prevent infection. The healthcare provider may recommend applying an antibiotic ointment to the wound and covering it with a sterile dressing.

If a person experiences pain or discomfort after the removal of an epidermoid cyst, the healthcare provider may recommend over-the-counter pain medications or prescribe stronger pain medications if needed.

In some cases, epidermoid cysts may be removed for cosmetic reasons. If a person is considering the removal of an epidermoid cyst for cosmetic reasons, they should discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure with their healthcare provider.

Author’s Bio

Callie Brown is a skin care researcher with years of knowledge in dermatology research. She enjoys sharing cosmetic and skin care tips to readers worldwide.

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