Sebaceous cysts (EPIDERMOID AND PILAR CYSTS)
Sebaceous cysts is the old term for epidermoid and pilar cysts.
Dr Doron Boone specialises in the removal of skin cysts under local anaesthetic. If you are considering having a cyst removed, please either call us on the appointments number above or complete the contact form and tick the minor surgery check box. We will be happy to arrange an appointment or a call-back with Dr Doron Boone at your convenience.
Below Dr Doron Boone explains some interesting facts about these nuisance skin lesions.
What are epidermoid and pilar cysts?
Epidermoid and pilar cysts are smooth round lumps just under the skin surface. They are benign (non-cancerous) and the majority cause no harm or problems. Over time, they can increase in size and become more noticeable. The main reason why some people want them removed is for cosmetic reasons, as they can look unsightly or become infected. They can usually be removed easily by a small operation done under local anaesthetic, if required.
Both epidermoid and pilar cysts are common, benign, and not contagious.
These cysts consist of closed sacs just below the skin surface with a lining containing a cheesy, odorous material looking rather like toothpaste.
Sometimes these cysts may become inflamed either due to infection or rupture of the cyst lining. When this occurs, the cyst becomes painful, red and quite warm to touch. An infected cyst may discharge pale yellow, smelly material.
The lining of an epidermoid cyst is made from cells which are normally found on the skin surface. Epidermoid cysts can affect anyone but are most common in young and middle-aged adults. They can appear anywhere on the skin but develop most commonly on the face, neck, chest, and upper back.
Removal of epidermoid cysts
Understandably, sebaceous (epidermoid) cysts on the face can be unsightly and on occasion disfiguring. These cysts also commonly appear on the neck and trunk where they are often much larger.
Surgical removal of these cysts is usually a simple procedure under local anaesthetic and is best performed before the cyst becomes too large or becomes infected because:
- A larger cyst will require a larger incision and will leave a more noticeable scar.
- An infected cyst becomes adherent to surrounding tissues under the skin and so removal becomes more difficult to perform with a greater risk of recurrence.
Surgery is best deferred until an infection has completely settled to reduce the risk of a wound infection and a more noticeable scar.
Dr Doron Boone is very experienced at removing epidermoid cysts and has excised hundreds of them in the course of his career with excellent cosmetic results.
The skin is closed with stitches which will require removal after a week or so.
The lining of a pilar cyst is made up of cells like those found in the roots of hairs.
Pilar cysts are most commonly found on the scalp and are often multiple. Similar cysts may also be found on the scrotal skin. There is an inherited tendency for these cysts to occur.
Pilar cysts usually appear firm, slightly mobile nodules, particularly when found under the skin of the scalp. Pilar cysts can become red and sore if inflamed or infected and may discharge some foul-smelling pus. Those on the scalp can catch on the comb.
Removal of pilar cysts
Surgical removal of these cysts is usually a simple procedure and can be performed under local anaesthetic without shaving the scalp. Dr Doron Boone is often able to remove several of these cysts at the same appointment. Generally, it is better to remove the cysts before they become too large or become infected because:
- Larger cysts require a larger incision.
- An infected cyst becomes adherent to surrounding tissues under the skin and so their removal becomes a little more difficult to perform, with a greater risk of recurrence.
The skin will be closed with stitches which will require removal after 7 days.