Skin Cyst | Epidermoid Cyst | Sebaceous Cyst

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Cysts are closed sac-like structures that can be filled with air, fluid, pus, or other solid material. They may form in any tissue of the body, but occur most commonly in the skin. The most common types of skin cysts include:

  • Epidermal cyst (or epidermoid cyst)
  • Pilar cyst
  • Dermoid cyst
  • Milia
  • Pilomatrixoma

Cyst are generally slow-growing, painless, and smooth to the touch when they are rolled under the skin. The most common types of skin cyst, the epidermoid cyst, are full of keratin, a common protein found in skin and hair. This type of cyst is commonly mislabeled as a sebaceous cyst, which is a much more rare type of cyst.

Skin cyst involving the chin

Skin cyst involving the chin
Small cyst of the left chin, showing a slight whitish hue which is typical of epidermoid cysts when close to the skin

Cysts can occur anywhere on the body where there is skin but the face, neck, scalp, and neck are the most common locations.

Skin cyst involving the forehead

Skin cyst involving the jaw line
Slightly larger cysts of the forehead and jaw line resulting in a bulge under the skin


Surgical removal of a cyst is typically performed under local anesthesia. The goal of treatment is to remove the entire cyst including the thin sac wall so that the cyst will not grow back. Very small cysts usually do not require treatment, however larger cysts are usually removed because of their size and potential for infection. If a cyst becomes infected, a small opening into the skin may be needed in order to drain the contents of the cyst.

Skin cyst involving the neck

Skin cyst involving the neck
Large golf ball size cyst of the neck in the process of being surgically removed

The smaller the cyst is at the time of removal the smaller the incisions needed to remove it. Cyst removal is typically covered by insurance, especially if there is pressure or discomfort from the cyst or if the cyst has ever been infected.

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Naficy Plastic Surgery & Rejuvenation Center     1110 112th Ave NE Suite 150 Bellevue, WA 98004     (425) 450-0880