Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Epidermal Inclusion Cyst

Epidermal Inclusion Cysts are common cutaneous cysts. Typically, these are known to manifest on the scalp, face, neck, and trunk.

Other names for this condition include – epidermoid cysts, follicular infundibular cysts, and epidermal cysts. The terminology epidermal inclusion cyst particularly refers to an epidermoid cyst which occurs as a consequence to the lodging of epidermal elements in the dermis.

Epidermal inclusion cysts are generally benign; on the other hand, very rarely, some are known to turn malignant. Thus, it is very vital that you confer with your health care provider / dermatologist and have the lesion examined.

Causes of Epidermal Inclusion Cyst

The epidermal cysts are usually caused by an accumulation of keratin – a protein which naturally occurs in skin cells. The cysts form when keratin gets entrapped below the skin due to some disruption to the skin or hair follicle. They form in response to an injury to the skin, acne, HPV infection, or excessive sun exposure.

Symptoms of Epidermal Inclusion Cyst

The cysts are tiny, hard masses which form underneath the skin.

They tend to grow very slowly. By and large, they do not cause any symptoms and are seldom ever malignant. Epidermoid cysts are often found on the scalp, face, neck, back, trunk and genitals. Their size varies from 1/4th inch to 2 inches in width. They may be tan or yellow in color, and are filled with thick, offensive-smelling debris. Usually, the cysts do not cause any pain. However, get it examined by your dermatologist; and he may advocate the wait and watch policy. Treatment is necessary if the cyst turns red and gets inflamed, painful, or infected.

Treatment of Epidermal Inclusion Cyst

  • To diagnose the cysts, your dermatologist will inspect the lump and the surrounding skin, and ask you for a medical history. He needs to know how long the mass has been present and whether there have been any changes in it with time. Your dermatologist will diagnose an epidermoid cyst by examination only; however, occasionally an ultrasound may be required to verify the diagnosis.
  • Most cysts either stop growing or fade away on their own without any treatment. Your health care provider will make note of the cyst and keep an eye on it during every check-up to ensure that it has not changed. By and large epidermoid cysts are not cancerous; hence, they do not pose a risk. A majority of them are never treated.
  • Treatment is needed in case the cyst becomes swollen, red, inflamed, painful, changes in size or character, or gets infected. Your health care provider will prescribe antibiotics and drainage of the cyst. At times the epidermal cyst may need to be excised surgically.
  • In most of the cases, the epidermal cysts cause no long term problems or complications at all. Squeezing out the contents of the cyst on your own can lead to infection, so leave the cyst well alone or discuss with your doctor.
  • Also, once the epidermal cyst has been drained, there is a likelihood that it will come back. Hardly ever, epidermoid cysts can become malignant. If you see any kind of change in the cyst it is very important that you visit your doctor.