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Dermoid cyst

What are dermoid cysts?

Dermoid cysts are abnormal growths, also called teratomas. They can be made up of hair, teeth, fluid or skin glands, but are benign (not cancer).

Dermoid cysts start to grow when a baby is still in the womb and they cannot be prevented.

They can affect different parts of the body, including nasal passages, ovaries, brain, neck and spinal cord.

Dermoid cysts are slow growing and may not be noticed until a child is older or an adult.

The effect a dermoid cyst will have on a person will depend on the location, for example, fertility problems with ovarian dermoid cysts.

Some dermoid cysts may not require treatment, while others may need surgical removal.

The type of specialist to carry out this procedure will depend on where the cyst is in the body.

Dermoid cysts have thin walls and may rupture.

Types of dermoid cysts

  • Cutaneous dermoid cyst (under the skin)
  • Periorbital dermoid cysts (around the eyes)
  • Spinal dermoid cysts (on the spinal cord)
  • Ovarian dermoid cysts (affecting women's ovaries)
  • Dermoid cysts in the brain
  • Dermoid cysts in the nasal sinuses


The diagnosis of a dermoid cyst will be made based on symptoms, a physical examination and imaging tests, such as an MRI scan.


Medical advice should be sought if a cyst has ruptured, is causing pain, gets bigger, changes colour or gets inflamed.

Dermoid cyst removal for cosmetic reasons may not be available on the NHS.

These cysts should not be removed at home as infection and complications can occur.

If a dermoid cyst can be removed, there should be a good chance of this being successful.

Sometimes the location of the cyst will mean an operation is not possible because of the risk of damage occurring to surrounding organs, nerves or tissue.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 02, 2016

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