~ Epidermoid and Pilar Cysts (Sebaceous cysts)
What are epidermoid and pilar cysts?
Epidermoid and pilar cysts are common, benign and not contagious. By definition, cysts are closed sacs that have a lining & contents that are liquid or semi-solid.
The lining of an epidermoid cyst looks like the epidermis (the outermost layer of cells in the skin). The lining of a pilar cyst is made up of cells like those found in the roots of hairs.
The contents: both types of cyst contain a cheesy material. This is made of soggy keratin – the material that makes up hair and the outer layer of the skin.
In the past, pilar and epidermoid cysts were wrongly known as ‘sebaceous’ cysts.
What causes cysts?
Epidermoid cysts affect young and middle aged adults. They can come up after a hair follicle has been inflamed, so they are common in acne.
Pilar cysts affect women more often than men, and tend to come up in middle age. They often run strongly in families.
What symptoms to cysts cause?
Both types of cysts grow slowly. Some become infected (red and sore) from time to time. They may then discharge cheesy foul-smelling pus. Those on the scalp can catch when combing the hair.
What do cysts look like?
They are round, sometimes dome-shaped bumps, lying just under the skin surface. Some are yellow or whitish. A small dark plug is often present, through which it may be possible to squeeze out some of the cyst’s contents. The cysts range in size from those that are smaller than a pea to those that are several centimetres across.
Cysts may occur anywhere on the skin but pilar cysts are most common on the scalp, where several can often be found. Epidermoid cysts are most common on the face, neck and upper trunk.
How will cysts be diagnosed?
Dr Hussain will make the diagnosis on the appearance of the lump. If there is any doubt, the cyst can be removed and checked under the microscope.
Can cysts be cured?
Yes – Dr Hussain is an expert in removing cysts under local anaesthetic and will discuss with you in detail how your particular cyst can best be treated
How can cysts be treated?
Epidermoid and pilar cysts are harmless, and small ones that give no trouble may be left alone. However patients often seek Dr Hussain’s help if the cyst is unsightly or it interferes with everyday activities such as catching on your comb. If the cyst becomes infected it is usually sensible to remove the cyst once the infection has settled to prevent further problems in the future.