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Cysts on the skin are commonly referred to as epidermal cysts or epidermal inclusion cysts. These are benign (non-cancerous) growths that usually present as a firm bump or nodule directly underneath the skin. Epidermal cysts can occur anywhere on the body but tend to favor the face, neck and back. Epidermal cysts often result from a clogged pore or follicle with accumulation of dead skin cells and the formation of a squamous lining or sack.


Small lesions are often subtle and asymptomatic, and may be monitored. However, larger cysts may cause physical disfigurement, pain or discomfort. Patients should avoid picking, cutting or squeezing at cysts due to risk of secondary infection and inflammation. Treatment commonly consists of surgical excision in which the entire cyst, including the sack, is surgically removed and sutured. Most cysts can be removed in the office under local anesthesia. If a cyst is drained or the sack is not completely removed, there is a higher risk of recurrence. Although epidermal cysts are benign by nature, a definitive diagnosis can not be made until the lesion is removed and sent to pathology for examination. Patients who develop any changing or growing lesions, should consult a dermatologist for evaluation. Depending on the size, location and presentation of the lesion, our dermatologist can help determine the best treatment option for you.

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