Dermoid Cyst

What Is a Dermoid Cyst?

A dermoid cyst is a pocket or sac that forms under the skin and contains tissue normally found on the outside of the skin. The cyst isn't painful or cancerous. It usually occurs on the face, neck, or head, including around the eyes.

Dermoid Cyst Causes

A dermoid cyst forms when a baby is in the womb. It occurs when some layers of the skin don't grow together the way they should, and hair, skin, or sweat gland cells get trapped inside. These cells act normally, shedding skin, oils, or sweat that then gets trapped inside the sac and forms a bump.

Contact Us

Meet our team at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh's Cleft-Craniofacial Center and learn about our treatment options, or contact UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh at 412-692-8650.

Dermoid Cyst Symptoms

The most common symptom is a painless bump on the face, head, or neck, usually near the scalp, forehead, nose, or eyes. The bump, which sometimes can be moved around under the skin, is usually not visible through the skin. Sometimes the cyst connects to the surface of the skin, especially when on the nose where a small pore may be visible. A hair can sometimes be seen coming out of the pore, and a cheese-like material may come out if squeezed.

While not life-threatening, the cyst can become infected. If you notice any signs of infection, including pus, redness, or soreness, see a doctor right away.

Dermoid Cyst Diagnosis

It's best to have a doctor evaluate any bump you find on your child's body. The doctor will perform a physical exam and may order imaging tests, which can include:

These tests are used to determine how deep the cyst extends beneath the skin and whether it's attached to other tissue or bone. Treatment is different if the cyst is connected to bone or tissue, especially in the brain.

Dermoid Cyst Treatment

Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan based on your child's overall health and the characteristics of the cyst.

Removing the cyst through surgery is the most common treatment. The complexity of the surgery depends on the cyst's location and whether it has any attachments within the face or deeper structures. If it has no deeper attachments, it can be removed through simple outpatient surgery.

If the cyst is near your child's midline (in the middle of their face), there is a chance the cyst can extend into the skull. If the cyst extends inside the skull, a more complex surgery may be required to remove it. Your doctor will help you meet with the Neurosurgical team to help with the removal.

When a cyst is surgically removed, it usually won't swell or grow back, so minimal follow-up is needed. Your doctor will review all steps of the surgery and recovery process with you before the procedure.


Contact the Cleft-Craniofacial Center at UPMC Children's

To make an appointment or learn more about our program, call us at 412-692-8650.