Skin nonmelanocytic tumor
Dermoid cyst

Topic Completed: 1 January 2015

Minor changes: 12 July 2021

Copyright: 2002-2021,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Dermoid cyst [title] skin

Ghassan A. Tranesh, M.D.
Hong Qu, M.D.
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Cite this page: Tranesh G. Dermoid cyst. website. Accessed July 28th, 2021.
Definition / general
  • Usually face of children along embryonic closure lines
  • Also neck midline, nasal root, nose, forehead, mastoid area, anterior chest, scalp
  • Dermoid cysts result from sequestration of cutaneous tissues along embryonal lines of closure
  • Also encountered in deeper noncutaneous sites
  • Some authors propose an embryological origin for these cysts, particularly in the nasal form
Clinical features
  • Usually enlarges slowly, but sudden increase in size may occur, bringing the lesion to attention at a later age
  • Treated with excision if clinically indicated
  • Squamous cell carcinoma rarely develops in wall of cyst
  • Infection of a cranial dermoid cyst may be complicated by central nervous system involvement
Radiology images

Images hosted on other servers:
CT without contrast shows lateral<br>dermoid cyst with characteristic hyperdense<br>cyst wall and hypodense cyst cavity

CT without contrast shows
lateral dermoid cyst with
characteristic hyperdense cyst
wall and hypodense cyst cavity

Case reports
Clinical images

Images hosted on other servers:
Lower lid

Lower lid

Lateral eyebrow

Lateral eyebrow

Gross description
  • Unilocular cysts are usually subcutaneous and filled with sebaceous material and hair
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Lined by stratified squamous epithelium with associated hair follicles and sebaceous glands
  • Eccrine sweat glands present in 35%, apocrine glands in 15%
  • Occasionally smooth muscle, but in contrast to benign cystic teratoma, cartilage and bone are not described
Microscopic (histologic) images

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Typical dermoid cyst

Typical dermoid cyst

Keratin filled lumen

Keratin filled lumen

Kertinized stratified squamous lining

Kertinized stratified squamous lining

Positive stains
  • Suprabasal layer: CK1 and CK10
  • Basal layer: CK14
  • Sebaceous gland-like areas: CK14+ in sebaceous acinus
  • Sebaceous duct: CK17
Differential diagnosis
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