Steatocystoma Simplex and Multiplex

Published: February 27, 2017
Last reviewed: January 31, 2018

What is steatocystoma?

Steatocystoma is a benign (noncancerous) skin cyst that arises from a sebaceous gland [1,2].

Steatocystoma simplex refers to a presence of a single cyst, which is usually acquired, and steatocystoma multiplex refers to a condition with multiple cysts, which is usually hereditary [1].

The term steatocystoma arises from “stear” (fat) and “cystis” (cyst).


In steatocystoma multiplex, after puberty, numerous nontender yellowish or flesh-colored cysts appear on various parts of the body, mainly on the chest, abdomen, upper arms, armpits, neck and face [1,2]. The cysts measure from 3 millimeters to 3 or more centimeters in size, are semi-translucent, soft or firm and without openings [1,4,5]. They contain sebum (a normal content of the sebaceous glands), which appears as a yellow liquid [1].

Steatocystoma rarely appears in children [2].

Epidermoid cyst

Picture 1. Steatocystoma
(source: DermNetNZ, CC license)

Epidermoid cyst

Picture 2. Steatocystoma on the face (source: Dermatology Atlas)

Epidermoid cyst

Picture 3. Steatocystoma on the face
(source: DermNetNZ, CC license)

Epidermoid cyst

Picture 4. Steatocystoma on an arm
(source: DermNetNZ, CC license)

Steatocystoma multiplex on the chest and abdomen

Picture 5. Steatocystoma on the chest and abdomen (source: JPGM, CC license)

Steatocystoma very rarely develops into cancer [5].

Differential Diagnosis

Other cysts and lumps similar to steatocystoma [5]:


Cysts can be removed by surgical excision, laser or cryotherapy [1].

Isotretinoin can reduce the size of the cysts [3].

  • References

      1. Steatocystoma multiplex  DermNetNZ
      2. Morrell DS, Steatocystoma Multiplex, Overview  Emedicine
      3. Morrell DS, Steatocystoma Multiplex, Medication  Emedicine
      4. Cutaneous cysts and pseudocysts  DermNetNZ
      5. Leung AKC et al, 2016, MAN WITH A 15-YEAR HISTORY OF DERMAL CYSTS ON THE ABDOMEN  Consultant360

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