Dermoid Cyst: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Dermoid Cyst?

A dermoid cyst is a sac-like growth that is present at birth. It contains structures such as hair, fluid, teeth, or skin glands that can be found on or in the skin. They usually occur on the face, inside the skull, on the lower back, and in the ovaries. Superficial dermoid cysts on the face usually can be removed without complications. These rarer dermoid cysts occur in four major areas:

  • Dermoid cysts in the brain:  A neurosurgeon may need to remove them if they cause problems.
  • Dermoid cysts in the nasal sinuses:  Removal of these cysts is extremely complicated.
  • Ovarian dermoid cysts: These growths can develop in a woman during her reproductive years. These dermoid cysts can be removed with either conventional surgery or laparoscopy.
  • Dermoid cysts of the spinal cord: A sinus tract, which is a narrow connection from a deep pit in the skin, usually connects these very rare cysts to the skin surface. This type of dermoid cyst can become infected. Removal is often incomplete, but the outcome is usually excellent.

Recovery Time

The only treatment for a dermoid cyst is to remove it through surgery. This is usually an outpatient procedure. The person can go home on the same day as the surgery. But the duration of recovery depends on the type of surgery performed. 


Diagnosis of a dermoid cyst is based on physical examination. Based on doctor’s suspicion of how deep is the cyst, other tests include:
  • X-ray
  • CT Scan
  • MRI 

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