What is a Dermoid Cyst?

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  • Written By: S. Gonzales
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2019
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A dermoid cyst is a type of cyst that exists at the time of a person's birth. It is saclike pocket or cavity contained underneath the skin, characterized as having tissues and structures that are typically found on the outside of the skin, such as fluid, hair, skin and teeth. Dermoid cysts develop out of a congenital defect that inhibits skin layers' ability to grow together while a fetus is in the womb. The cysts contain epithelium, an ingredient that helps skin oil, hair follicles, sebaceous and sweat glands develop and function. As the body grows, the cyst follows suit, causing a collection of these tissues and cells to accumulate in the saclike structure.

Though technically present at a person's birth, a dermoid cyst is not always visible during infancy. However, it will continue to gradually grow until it becomes visible, either during childhood or early adulthood. Areas where a dermoid cyst can occur include the inside of the skull, the face, the neck, the lower back and in the ovaries. Regardless of the patient's age and dermoid cyst's size, the cyst should not be tender unless it has been damaged or ruptured.


Individual symptoms vary between patients. In fact, it is not uncommon for a dermoid cyst to present itself as another medical problem, such as a neck injury. Typically, a dermoid cyst is painless. Its color may mirror a person's skin tone or be slightly tinged with yellow. The skin over the lump, as well as the lump itself, can be easily moved when touched.

A physician's diagnosis is usually required before treatment will be administered. During the first stages of diagnosis, a person's medical history will be evaluated and a physical examination will be performed. If the cyst is located on the head or neck, a computed tomography (CAT) scan and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure will be undergone to determine how the cyst exists in relation to the patient's other head and neck tissues.

If removal is determined to be necessary, surgery may be recommended. Cyst removal from the face is the least complicated procedure and may be able to be performed in a doctor's office. If a dermoid cyst occurs in a rarer area, such as in the brain, nasal sinuses, ovaries or spinal cord, removal may require that a patient stay in a hospital. However, recovery outcomes, in even extremely sensitive areas like the spinal cord, are very good.


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Post 3

My aunt had a dermoid cyst removed from her breast. Her doctors couldn't diagnose the type of cyst before surgery because of her breast tissue. So they went ahead and removed it. They were shocked to know that it was just full of hair! I think that's very weird but we are happy that it wasn't cancer.

Post 2

@literally45-- Yes, you've had the dermoid ovarian cyst since birth. It was probably too small before to cause symptoms. That doesn't mean that it wasn't there. Dermoid cysts grow slowly, along with us. Most women get symptoms from it in their twenties, because it usually grows large enough to cause issues by then.

I know that this is kind of gross to think about, but there is certainly something inside the cyst. It might just be fluid, but it could definitely be hair or a tooth as well. You can ask your doctor after the surgery about what was in yours. If you want to know that is.

I had a dermoid cyst removed about ten years ago. Mine was just full of tissue and fluid, which is probably the case with most people.

Post 1

I have a dermoid ovarian cyst. How can the cyst be present since my birth? I develop symptoms from it about a month ago, I never had issues before this. Right now, I have a chronic aching pain in my abdomen and swelling.

I'm due to have surgery soon. The cyst will be removed via laparoscopy. If it truly is a dermoid cyst, does this mean that there are things like skin and hair in it? I think that would be scary.

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