An epidermoid cyst can develop in any part of your body. The non-cancerous lumps beneath the surface cause no harm to you. In most of the cases, you cannot find any malignant cells in the cyst. So, it does not cause life-threatening complications. Also known as epidermal cysts, it grows slowly over a period of time. It can cause embarrassment to people due to its appearance of parts like face, neck, and trunk. Most often, people consider the cysts as a problem due to not maintaining proper hygiene. So, you can get judged for developing such cysts. But, the development of cysts has no connection with hygiene.
People think the epidermal cysts and sebaceous cysts are the same. It is another common misconception. Both types of cysts have a subtle difference. Sebaceous cysts are less common compared to other types of cysts. It mostly develops from the gland (sebaceous) that secretes oily substances. The oily matter lubricates your skin and hair. The epidermal cysts can go away on its own without treatment. But, at times, it can grow in size and cause inflammation or infection. So, you need to consult your doctor for removing it. Read ahead to know more about the cysts.
What Is A Cyst?
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Before learning more about the epidermoid cyst, you need to understand about cysts. Cysts are sac-like pocket structures of membranous tissue. The closed capsules structures contain air, fluid, semisolid material. It resembles a blister. A cyst can grow within the tissue. So, it can affect any part of your body. It can also develop under your skin. You can find different types of cysts. In the majority of the cases, the cyst contains no malignant cells. Therefore, they are harmless. Some cysts have cancerous cells in it. So, they can adversely affect your health. Such structures need immediate medical attention. In most cases, people choose to remove a benign cyst due to cosmetic reasons. The appearance on the visible body part can make you feel self-conscious. It is also removed with the help of a doctor when you experience pain, inflammation, infection or rupture.
Anatomy Of Cysts
The cysts can develop within your tissue. So, you can experience the development of the cysts on any part of your body. The size of the lump can vary from small (microscopic) to a large size (size of sports ball). The large-sized cysts can displace the internal organs. So, it requires immediate medical attention to treat the problem. The cyst is not a normal part of your tissue. It is the abnormal sac that contains liquid, gaseous or semisolid substances. The structure acts as a different membrane from your tissue. It is also separated from the nearby tissue. A cyst has an outer portion. It is known as the cyst wall. So, the capsular portion is mostly filled with something. If the sac has pus, then it is known as an abscess.
Appearance Of Epidermoid Cyst
The epidermoid cyst looks different from the other types of cysts. It has a wall made up of the epidermis skin cells. The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin. The cyst wall looks like a balloon and is projected down to your second layer of skin (also known as the dermis). The cyst wall can produce keratin that fills in the cyst. Keratin is the protein necessary for the growth of skin, hair, and nails. The protein is white with a cheesy or firm texture.
In the majority of the cases, the typical epidermal cysts have a raised appearance. It looks like a round bump. When you touch the bump, you can feel the cyst wall moving under the skin. You can see a distinctive blackhead inside the cyst. The cyst has a small opening in its surface. It looks like a scab. But, the small size makes it difficult to see it properly.
Symptoms Of Epidermoid Cyst
You need to monitor your body closely to become aware of the development of lumps and bumps. Close observation of your skin can help know the presence of cysts. When you develop an epidermal cyst, you need to look for the following signs:
- A round, bump small in size under your skin
- See the lump on trunk, neck or face
- A tiny blackhead plugging the center portion on the opening
- A small, round bump under the skin, usually on the face, neck or trunk
- Yellow, smelly substance thick in texture (keratin) drains from the cysts
- Redness in the affected area
- Swelling or tenderness in the area
- Presence of inflammation or infection
In most cases, you may not need medical treatment for the condition. The cysts never cause any problem for you. But, you need to consult your doctor when you face on or more of the following circumstances:
- The cysts grow rapidly
- The cyst ruptures
- Becomes painful
- The cyst becomes infected
- It occurs on a spot with constant irritation
- The cyst embarrasses you due to cosmetic reasons
- You develop it at an unusual location like you toe or finger
In such cases, you can get assistance from your doctor to eliminate the problem permanently.
Causes Of A Epidermoid Cyst
Such types of cyst forms due to the excess buildup of keratin. Keratin is the naturally occurring protein in your skin cells. Cysts can develop due to the trapping on the protein below your skin surface. It mainly occurs when you experience disruption to the skin or hair follicle. Your skin surface, known as epidermis has a protective, thin layer of cells. Your body tends to shed the layer continuously. At times, the cells can move deep into the skin instead of shedding. So, it can accumulate and multiply, leading to the development of an epidermoid cyst. The cysts mostly develop when you face the following:
- Injury to the skin
- Trauma to the superficial part of the hair follicle
- HPV infection
- Excess exposure to the sun
- Skin problems like acne
When you encounter the above-mentioned issues, you can see abnormal cell growth. It can result in the formation of a cyst with epidermal cells forming a wall. The epidermal cells can secrete keratin, the protein into the interior of the cyst. So, the cyst is filled with a thick and yellow substance. When the cyst ruptures, you can see the keratin (thick, yellow substance) drain from the cyst. The cysts can also rupture when the clothes or jewelry snags it. Therefore, you need to see a dermatologist to talk about solutions to deal with the problem.
Risk Factors Triggering Epidermoid Cysts
It is possible to develop such lumps and bumps at any point in your life. Anyone can develop such cysts. But, some people are more susceptible to the issue compared to others. So, the factors that make a person more prone to cyst development are:
It happened to individuals who are past their puberty. It is the time when the body undergoes several transformations. The physical changes occurring during the phase converts the child into an adult. During the period, hormonal changes can occur leading to the development of such cysts.
Some rare genetic disorder can lead to the development of multiple epidermoid cysts. The disorders like Lowe or Gardener syndrome can result in such cysts in your body.
When you suffer a trauma, you can injure your skin. The injury can put you at risk of developing the lumps.
Complications Due To Epidermoid Cyst
At times, waiting for the cysts to disappear on its own can cause severe complications. The possible complications of the problem include:
The cyst can grow in size and cause inflammation. You can experience tenderness and swelling in the area without any infection. It can cause severe distress. Most people consult a doctor when the cyst becomes inflamed. But, your doctor cannot remove the cyst with inflammation. You need to bring down the inflammation by keeping a warm compress. Once the inflammation subsides, your doctor removes it.
A ruptured cyst can often result in the formation of boil-like infection. So, you need prompt treatment.
In some cases, the cysts can become infected. So, it can trigger pain due to the presence of an abscess.
In very rare cases, the cysts can result in the development of malignant cells. So, you can suffer from skin cancer.
Diagnosis Of Epidermoid Cysts
When you develop a specific type of cyst, you can experience pain and discomfort. Since the cysts resemble the sebaceous cysts, you can become confuses. Therefore, it is better to get it evaluated by our doctor. Your doctor can make a conclusive diagnosis of the problem and rule out the presence of life-threatening complications. You mostly develop the cyst due to the damage to our hair follicles. It can also develop due to the problems with the epidermis (the outer layer of skin). A medical professional can detect the problem precisely.
Evaluation of the problem is based on your medical history and physical assessment. The other tests are not required to determine the problem. So, you never have to undergo any laboratory tests or imaging tests to evaluate the cysts. Your doctor assesses the epidermoid cyst during a visual examination. You must answer the question about your medical history truthfully. It will help your doctor come to a conclusion.
In some cases, the visual assessment may not provide information for proper diagnosis. In such cases, the doctor can suggest a skin biopsy. Your affected skin sample is sent to the lab for testing. The lab technicians look at the sample skin cells under the microscope for a detailed analysis. Based on the results, your doctor can suggest a solution to eliminating the cyst.
Treatment For Epidermoid Cyst
In most cases, epidermal cysts need no specific treatment. It causes your health with no complications. But, once the cyst starts bothering you, it required attention and care. So, your doctor can suggest the following options to deal with the problem:
The epidermal cyst can go away without any medical assistance. It stops growing after some time. So, you never have to worry too much about the problem. Your doctor can make note of the cyst. It is constantly monitored during each visit to ensure no change in status. As the specific cysts may not develop into cancerous lumps, you may not think too much about it. So, it does not pose a risk to your health.
If the cyst causes you discomfort or pain, then your doctor can suggest an injection to reduce the distress. Some people find the cyst embarrassing due to its presence on visible locations on the body. So, you can seek a doctor’s assistance to deal with the cosmetic problem. It is a temporary solution to reduce swelling and pain. Therefore, your doctor injects a medicine directly into the cyst. It reduces inflammation and reduces the swelling. But, you face the risk of experiencing the problem again.
Draining The Cysts
To seek relief fast, your doctor can suggest draining the epidermal cyst. So, the doctor makes a small cut on the affected site. Then, the medical professional squeezes the contents of the cyst. The method is simple and quick. Since the whole cyst wall is not removed during the process, the problem can recur in the future.
The cyst wall makes the keratin content that leads to the development of the cyst. The opening and draining of the cysts alone may not remove the cyst wall. It remains inside your skin. So, it increases the chance of making more keratin leading to the development of new lumps or bumps.
If you want a permanent solution to the problem, then you need to undergo minor surgery. It removes the whole cyst wall. So, the possibility of recurrences reduces considerably. Your doctor can perform the invasive procedure to remove the entire cyst. Before, removing the cysts, your doctor checks for inflammation. An inflamed cyst is not removed surgically. So, your doctor waits till the inflammation goes away. You need to place a warm compress to reduce the inflammation. Once the inflammation subsides, your doctor can perform the procedure.
During the procedure, the doctor makes an incision over the cyst. Then, your doctor drains the entire content of the cyst. After the draining of the content, the whole cyst wall is separated from its surroundings. Your doctor removes the separated cyst wall and closes the cyst. If your cyst is large, then your doctor makes a large incision to drain the contents. So, you need sutures to close the cysts. Once it heals, you need to return to the doctor’s office for removing the stitches. Minor surgery is an effective and safe option to prevent the problem from recurring.
Treatment For Epidermoid Cyst Rupture
In most cases, the epidermal cysts cause you no cause of concern. The cysts can get large and cause you discomfort and pain. The large cyst can cause a risk of rupture. When the cyst wall ruptures, the contents inside the lump can drain out. In most cases, the keratin inside the cyst can affect the tissue surrounding the lump. So, it can result in severe irritation. The ruptured epidermoid cyst can have symptoms like:
- The affected area becomes red
- Swelling around the area
- Severe pain
When you experience such signs, you need to see a doctor immediately. The doctor checks the cyst for infection and inflammation. It is allowed to drain while applying a warm compress to reduce the inflammation. If the infection is present while opening the cyst, then the treatment involves treating it. So, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics for clearing the infection. In other cases, a corticosteroid injection can offer relief. Your doctor suggests triamcinolone for overcoming the problem. It is important to see a doctor for such problems. Your doctor can diagnose the problem accurately and deal with the concerns associated with the problem. A medical professional can treat a troublesome cyst with care, which will avoid making it worse.
Preventing Epidermoid Cyst
You cannot take steps to prevent the development of such cysts. Therefore, no proven steps can eliminate your risk of getting affected by the problem. You can only take care of the problem once it develops on your skin surface. Therefore, you can consult your doctor and take necessary action to prevent the pain and distress associated with the development of cysts. The cysts can grow to cause swelling, infection, and pain. So, once the cyst forms, you can prevent scarring or infection by adopting the following steps:
Never Remove Cysts At Home
While several sites may give you guidelines to remove the cysts at home, you must never follow it. Removing cysts at home by squeezing or by using tweezers can only lead to infection or scarring.
You can place a warm compress on the cyst to reduce the pain and swelling associated with the problem. Clean the surrounding area well before placing the compress. Use a soft, warm compress on the cyst directly. The warmth can urge the trapped substance inside the cyst to go out. So, the substances can drain from the hair follicle without popping or squeezing it. You can use a moist and warm washcloth to get the same results.
In the majority of the cases, an epidermoid cyst causes no life-threatening or long-term complications. Try to take steps at home to reduce pain and inflammation. But, never squeeze or pop the contents from it. It can put you at risk of suffering from infection and scarring. So, it is better to leave it alone and wait for it to go away. Some people feel embarrassed by it due to its development on the visible skin surface. In such cases, they try to remove it by themselves. If you remove it at home, apart from the chances of infection and scarring, the possibility of recurring of the problem increases. When you see significant changes in the appearance of the cyst or suffer from pain, see your doctor. Your doctor can suggest the right treatment options to manage the condition without any complications.View Article Sources