Menu   WellSpan Health

Health Library

Health Library

Dermoid Cyst

What is a dermoid cyst?

A dermoid cyst is a pocket or cavity under the skin. It contains tissues normally present in the outer layers of the skin. The pocket forms a mass that is sometimes visible at birth or in early infancy but often is not seen until later years. Dermoid cysts are usually found on the head or neck and face, but can happen anywhere on the body.

What causes a dermoid cyst?

A dermoid cyst is a congenital defect (present from birth) that happens during embryonic development when the skin layers do not properly grow together. A dermoid cyst is lined with epithelium. This contains tissues and cells normally present in skin layers, including hair follicles, sebaceous (skin oil), and sweat glands. These glands and tissues secrete their normal substances. They collect inside the cyst, causing it to grow and enlarge.

What are the symptoms of a dermoid cyst?

The following are the most common symptoms of a dermoid cyst. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include a small, often painless, lump in the mid-line of the neck (in which the skin over the lump can easily be moved). The lump may be skin-colored, or may have a slight yellow tinge.

The symptoms of a dermoid cyst may look like other neck masses or medical problems. Always talk with your child's health care provider for a diagnosis.

How is a dermoid cyst diagnosed?

Dermoid cysts are diagnosed by physical exam. Generally, the mass can be easily moved beneath the skin. In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures to determine if the cyst is connected to other tissues in the head and neck may include:

  • Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan). A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

Treatment of a dermoid cyst

Specific treatment of a dermoid cyst will be decided by your child's health care provider based on:

  • Your child's age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the condition

  • Your child's tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the condition

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include surgery to remove the cyst.

Dermoid Cyst - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 2015-04-30T00:00:00
Last Modified Date: 2015-07-02T00:00:00
Posting Date: 2008-11-30T00:00:00
Published Date: 2015-07-02T00:00:00
Last Review Date: 2007-03-30T00:00:00
© 2015 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.


Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.