Healthy Living

What are Epidermoid Cysts?

What are Epidermoid Cysts?

Epidermoid cysts are small, harmless bumps seen under the skin in different parts of the body. Sebaceous cysts are small bag like cysts filled with oily secretions affecting the oil glands. These cysts are less common and affect the sebaceous glands in the body. The sac-like structures often develop in the neck, face, and sometimes in the genital area. They develop slowly under the skin and are often painless. In some rare cases, these bumps are found to be swollen and infected. And in some other cases, these cysts may break open oozing a foul smelling fluid. These cysts are found to be more common among men than in women.

The most common symptoms of epidermoid cyst is the presence of small, harmless, painless lump under the skin. These are usually white or yellow in color. People with dark skin may have pigmentation in the cysts as well.

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Infection of the cysts are characterized by:

  • Reddishness of the skin
  • Soreness in the affected area
  • Warmth in the affected skin area
  • Foul smelling white liquid oozing out of the cysts

In some cases, the cyst may have a central opening that is plugged by a blackhead. Most of the epidermoid cysts are harmless, but if you feel that it affects your looks, it can be removed with the help of a doctor. It is better to get medical attention if the cysts grow rapidly or burst oozing fatty material. It is also important to bring it to the attention of a doctor if the cyst develops in such a place that it is irritated often.

Epidermoid cysts are formed when the superficial cells of the skin move deeper into the skin and start dividing. The cells that make up the wall of the cyst secretes keratin, a thick yellow proteinaceous substance that oozes out of the bag.

Some of the factors that may lead to the formation of an epidermoid cyst include:

  • Damage to hair follicles
  • Rupture of oil glands
  • Heredity
  • Developmental defect in the gland cells

The most common risk factors for developing epidermoid cysts are:

  • Puberty – These cysts start developing after puberty
  • Gender – Cysts are more common in males than in females
  • History of acne – People who have had acne are found to be more susceptible to developing cysts
  • Skin injuries – Injury to skin cells increases the risk of developing cysts
  • Exposure to sun – Exposure to sun for a long duration increases the risk of epidermoid cysts