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What are Pilar Cysts?

What is pilar cyst on scalp?

What are Pilar Cysts?

Pilar cysts are small, chicken skin-like structures that form on the scalp. Pilar cysts on the scalp are common and harmless. They are not a sign of any serious health problem. They’re sometimes called trichilemmal cysts or wens. 

A pilar cyst is also called an epidermoid cyst and it can occur when a hair follicle gets clogged. Pilar cysts can develop anywhere on the body but they are most common on the scalp.

Pilar cysts begin when the outer layer of the skin sheds old skin cells. Sometimes, cells can shift under the surface of the skin instead of falling off. Due to this, the shedding cells start to grow by multiplying themselves and instead of moving up to the surface, they get trapped under the skin and begin to build up.

If you have pilar cysts on the scalp, then this article is for you. We will cover everything there is to know about pilar cysts on the scalp in this article.

What are the Causes of Pilar Cysts on the Scalp?

Pilar cysts are microscopic. They can be easily diagnosed by a doctor or dermatologist. They are caused due to the blockage of hair follicles.

Pilar cysts on the scalp are common skin conditions and affect both men and women of all ages. However, they are more commonly found in middle-aged women.

Pilar cysts on the scalp can also be caused by:

  • Injury to the scalp Sunburn Trauma Surgery Scarring
  • As with any other health issue, prevention is easier than cure.

How are Pilar Cysts Diagnosed?

Pilar cysts can be diagnosed easily at home based on the signs and individual risk factors. However, you should always consult your doctor for confirmation. They can easily identify the underlying causes that may be more serious than you think. 

Your doctor might perform a biopsy which involves taking a small sample of the tissue from the affected area and sending it to the lab for microscopic evaluation. Sometimes, a CT scan is also advised to rule out the possibility of cancer and other types of cysts.

What are the Treatments Available for Pilar Cysts?

Treatment is not mandatory for pilar cysts. However, many people consider surgery options due to cosmetic reasons or general discomfort caused by cysts.

In some rare cases, pilar cysts can develop into cancer wherein the cysts tend to grow and multiply real quick. In that case, surgery is the best option available.

Your doctor may recommend draining the cyst by making a small cut at the affected area. He will remove both the cyst and the epithelial lining from the underlying hair follicle. This will stop the cyst from producing excess keratin that leads to bumps.

After the surgery, you may notice a small scar in the operated area. These surgeries also put you at a risk for infection and possible scarring. If you come across redness, irritation, and pus drainage from the affected area, consult your doctor immediately.

Doctors can prescribe oral antibiotics and other ointments to treat these symptoms. We also recommend consulting your doctor if you experience any pain after surgery.

There is no guarantee that cysts will not return after surgery. So, it is totally up to you whether you want to go for surgical removal or prescribed medications. However, always stay alert and keep an eye on the cyst to identify any unusual changes in its structure or unexpected growth.

Problems Associated with Pilar Cysts

Pilar cysts cannot be prevented from forming and there is no way to predict the occurrence of pilar cysts. While pilar cysts can be irritating, they do not have any negative effects on your overall health. They are usually painless but might cause pain if you scratch or comb the affected area hard.

Pilar cysts on the scalp can sometimes rupture and become infected. This may let the bacteria enter your bloodstream through the wound opening and cause other illnesses. It can be treated by applying topical solutions or by taking oral antibiotics.

Here are some signs that your pilar cyst is probably infected:

  • Inflammation, swelling, or redness.
  • Pain in or around the affected area.
  • Thick fluid coming out of the cyst.
  • Bad odor coming from the oozing liquid.

Immediately consult your doctor if you come across any of the aforesaid symptoms.

To prevent further infection and potential scarring, you should avoid squeezing the cyst or popping it to drain the liquid. Also, refrain from sticking a needle in the cyst or cutting it by yourself to remove the cyst.

Take Away

A pilar cyst is a benign cyst that forms in the hair follicle. It usually occurs in the middle part of the scalp, near the center. Pilar cysts often appear as small bumps on the upper layers of the skin. They may sometimes grow together to form a larger cyst. Larger cysts may cause some pain or discomfort. Pilar cysts do not go away on their own and are generally harmless. A doctor should be consulted if the cysts are itchy or if there is a lot of swelling.