Dermoid cyst

Author: Vanessa Ngan, Staff Writer, 2003.

What is a dermoid cyst?

A dermoid cyst is a non-cancerous tumour that may occur anywhere in the body. In the skin these cysts are made up of keratinocytes, hair follicles, and sweat glands. They occur mostly on the face (outer eyebrow, eyelid, upper nose), neck, or scalp. The cyst is usually a solitary, firm, dough-like lump and ranges in size from 0.5–6 cm in diameter. It can be associated with a nearby pit and/or sinus tract to underlying tissues.

Who gets dermoid cyst?

Dermoid cyst of the skin appears in early childhood, with about 40% present at birth and most appearing by the age of 5 years. The cyst develops during skin tissue development in the embryonic stage. They occur in fusion lines.

Dermoid cysts in other parts of the body, such as within the skull, spine or abdominal cavity particularly the ovaries, may present at any time in people of all ages.

Treatment of dermoid cyst

A dermoid cyst is usually removed surgically by excision biopsy. Prior to surgery, it may be investigated with ultrasound scan to determine the extent of underlying tissue involvement. If there is a nearby sinus tract, this is often explored using a sinogram.

Dermoid cysts in other parts of the body such as intracranial cysts, intraspinal cysts, intra-abdominal cysts and cystic tumours of the ovary may be difficult to treat and require special surgical techniques to remove the lesion and prevent possible complications.

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