A dermoid cyst is a pocket or hole under the skin that contains tissue normally found in the outer layers of the skin, which might be hair follicles, oil, and sweat glands. Oil and sweat collect inside the cyst, causing it to get larger.
A dermoid cyst is a congenital (present from birth) condition that occurs when the skin layers don’t grow together as they should during the early stages of an embryo’s development.
Dermoid cysts may be visible at birth or soon after. Often, however, they aren’t seen until a child is older. Dermoid cysts are usually found on the head, neck, or face, but they can also occur on other parts of the body.
Depending on where the cyst is located, it can cause problems. For example, a dermoid cyst near the eye may affect your child’s eyesight. These cysts also can damage nearby bone, cause infections, or cause your child to be embarrassed or uncomfortable.
If you notice any lumps or bumps on your child, it’s important to have them evaluated by your child’s doctor.
The Symptoms of a Dermoid Cyst
In most cases, the only symptom of a dermoid cyst is a bump or lump under the skin.
- The skin over the lump can easily be moved
- The lump may be skin-colored, or may have a slight blue color
If a dermoid cyst becomes infected, it may hurt, become swollen and red, or burst. The infection may cause a fever.
How a Dermoid Cyst Is Diagnosed
Your child’s healthcare provider will usually diagnose a dermoid cyst based on a physical exam that reveals what it looks like and where it is. Your child may need imaging tests to find out how deep into the body the cyst goes, and if it’s connected to other tissue in the head and neck. Tests may include:
- CT scan: X-rays and a computer are used to produce detailed images of any part of the body
- MRI scan: Large magnets, radio waves, and a computer make detailed images of organs and structures within the body without using radiation
How Dermoid Cyst is Treated
The treatment for a dermoid cyst is to remove it through surgery. This is usually an outpatient procedure, which means your child can go home the same day as the surgery.
When a dermoid cyst is located on the head or neck, surgery is often performed by an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist), particularly if the cyst is connected to any facial or neck structures. Plastic surgeons or neurosurgeons sometimes may be involved, depending on where the cyst is located.
During the procedure, the ENT surgeon will make a small incision (cut) in the skin over the cyst, remove the cyst, then close the incision. In sensitive areas, such as the face or brow, we can often hide the incision in the hairline or eyebrow.
Why Choose Us to Treat Dermoid Cyst
With their advanced training and experience, Cooper’s team of otolaryngologists—ear, nose, and throat specialists—are uniquely qualified to treat children with this condition when it occurs on the head and neck, and they have a proven track record of successful outcomes.
To learn more about the services available in the Division of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery or to schedule an appointment, please call 856-342-3113.