What are dermoid cysts?
Dermoid cyst can occur anywhere, including in the eye. Though they aren’t considered cancerous, they can be uncomfortable, so they’re often removed. Credit: American Academy of Ophthalmology
Teratomas, which are ovarian tumors that contain hair and teeth, are an example of ovarian dermoid cysts. Credit: Ed Uthman, MD.
Dermoid cysts tend to form near the surface of the skin. They’re often noticeable soon after birth. Some may develop deeper inside the body as well. This means diagnosing them may not happen until later in life.
The location of a dermoid cyst determines its type. The more common types are:
Periorbital dermoid cyst
This type of dermoid cyst usually forms near the right side of the right eyebrow or the left side of the left eyebrow. These cysts are present at birth. However, they may not be obvious for months or even a few years after birth.
The symptoms, if any, are minor. There’s little risk to a child’s vision or health. However, if the cyst becomes infected, prompt treatment of the infection and surgical removal of the cyst is essential.
Ovarian dermoid cyst
This kind of cyst forms in or on an ovary. Some types of ovarian cysts are related to a woman’s menstrual cycle. But an ovarian dermoid cyst has nothing to do with the ovary’s function.
Like other kinds of dermoid cysts, an ovarian dermoid cyst first develops before birth. A woman may have a dermoid cyst on an ovary for many years until it’s discovered during a pelvic exam.
Spinal dermoid cyst
This benign cyst forms on the spine. It doesn’t spread elsewhere. It may be harmless and present no symptoms.
However, this kind of cyst may press against the spine or spinal nerves. For that reason, it should be surgically removed.
When to Seek Medical Care
A doctor should be contacted in the following situations:
- A cyst becomes painful or inflamed.
- A cyst grows or changes color.
- Removal is desired for cosmetic reasons.
Typically, removing a dermoid cyst is not an emergency procedure. If a dermoid cyst ruptures, becomes inflamed, or causes pain or fever, a person should seek immediate medical advice. Depending on the severity of pain or discomfort, a person might also consider visiting a hospital’s emergency department.
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