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What Is a Dermoid Cyst?

Dermoid cysts are closed sacs that form within the body. A cyst may contain fluid, pus, some other tissue from the body, or foreign matter.

Dermoid cysts form in or on the skin, usually on the face near the eyebrow, on the scalp, or on the chest over the collarbone. Rarely, a dermoid cyst near the surface of the body extends below the skin and connects to deeper structures. Very rarely, dermoid cysts develop in other areas of the body instead of the skin.

Dermoid cysts are common in children. Most of the time they are painless and benign, which means they don't threaten your child's health. But they may become infected. If the cyst is in a spot that's easy to see, you or your child may dislike the way it looks.

Surgeons remove dermoid cysts to prevent infection. They also remove dermoid cysts if you or your child don't like the way it looks (cosmetic reasons). Dermoid cysts will not go away on their own.

Dermoid Cysts in Children

Dermoid cysts can affect any child. They form during pregnancy while a baby develops in the mother's womb.

Dermoid cysts occur when skin cells and other structures related to skin — like hair, sweat glands, oil glands or fatty tissue — get trapped in a pocket as the baby grows. The cysts are present at birth (congenital). But because they grow slowly, sometimes you may not see them until later childhood or early adulthood.

Dermoid Cysts at Seattle Children’s

We treat many children with dermoid cysts. Our surgeons are experienced at performing the operation to remove the cyst. We do this as a simple outpatient procedure.

Depending on the location and depth of the cyst, many children have cysts removed by our pediatric surgeons. Others may see our plastic surgeons or neurosurgeons. Our surgeons will help decide who is best suited to do your child's surgery.

When you come to Seattle Children's, you have a team of people to care for your child before, during and after surgery. Along with your child's surgeon, you are connected with nurses, child life specialists and others. We work together to meet all of your child's health needs and help your family through this experience.

Since 1907, Seattle Children's has been treating children only. Our team members are trained in their fields and also in meeting the unique needs of children. For example, the doctors who give your child anesthesia are board certified in pediatric anesthesiology. This means they have extra years of training in how to take care of kids. Our child life specialists know how to help children understand their illnesses and treatments in ways that make sense for their age. Our expertise in pediatrics truly makes a difference for our patients and families.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Spring 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Cold Water Shock Can Quickly Cause Drowning
  • E-Cigs Are Addictive and Harmful
  • Bystanders Can Intervene to Stop Bullying

Download Spring 2014 (PDF)