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Cysts (Epidermoid) in Horses

Cysts, in general, do not normally affect a great deal of horses. There are many different types of cysts, depending on their origin and where they are located on the horse’s body. Some cysts can be opened and drained, but for a chance at complete recovery, cysts require surgery to remove. Other cysts, due to their location, are not good candidates for surgical removal and the owner may elect to leave them alone as long as they are not causing the horse pain.


Symptoms and Types


  • Swelling at the surface of the skin (usually small and hard)
  • Swelling at the bottom of the ear (dentigerous cysts)
  • Swelling in the false nostril (atheromas)
  • Lesions/cysts filled with keratinaceous (protein material found in hair, outer layer of epidermis) debris (keratomas)




  • Congenital defects
  • Abnormalities in the upper layers of the skin




Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination of your horse's skin. In addition to examining the skin, he or she will be able to discern if the lesions are cysts by palpating the area. Depending on the location of the cyst, more extensive diagnostics may be warranted to make a diagnosis.


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