Pilar Cyst Removal Summary

Pilar cyst are common, and frequently found on the scalp. They are mostly benign skin growths. However, they can get infected, rupture and cause pain and discomfort in some situations. Pilar cyst removal surgery is an office based procedure under local anaesthesia. Healing is excellent in most individuals.

About Pilar Cyst

The Pilar cyst (aka Trichilemmal cyst) is another common cyst, that grows over the scalp region in 90% of patients. It is estimated to affect about 5-10% of the population. Women tend to get pilar cyst more often than men do (the reason for this is still shrouded in mystery!), and these cysts are known to run in families. While the pilar cyst is a mostly benign and harmless skin cyst, many seek removal as it may look and feel cosmetically unacceptable.

Pilar cyst tends to grow slowly over time. These skin coloured cyst feels firm to the touch, and you may appreciate them moving when you put your finger and thumb over the cyst, and jiggle it.

Very often multiple cyst can be found in the majority of patients with pilar cyst. Unlike the epidermal cyst, the pilar cyst does not have an opening (the punctum). However, it is still possible for the pilar cyst to rupture, and get inflammed and infected causing redness, swelling and pain.

Pilar Cyst Removal Surgery

There is no medication that will shrink or cure the cyst. As the pilar cyst is a physical structure within the skin, pilar cyst removal with surgery is curative. An incision is placed over the skin, and the pilar cyst can be popped out quite easily in most cases. The skin is then closed with sutures, and the scars are usually not obvious as it is located on the scalp. This is a simple office based procedure done under local anaesthesia.

Complications of Pilar Cyst

Most pilar cyst occurs over the scalp region. They can be traumatised when you comb or brush your hair. Pilar cyst can occasionally get infected and rupture. When this happens, the cyst will feel painful, swollen and may even discharge pus. If this happens, please see a doctor for medical treatment, to treat the infection and bring the symptoms under control.

Fortunately, the rate of cancer arising from a pilar cyst is very rare. However, we usually send all specimens for a biopsy to be certain. 

More Information:

  • Pilar Cyst. DermNet NZ. Click here.
  • Trichilemmal Cyst. Emedicine. Click here.

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Related Information:

  1. James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM. Andrews’ Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. 673.
  2. Satyaprakash AK, Sheehan DJ, Sangueza OP. Proliferating trichilemmal tumors: a review of the literature. Dermatol Surg. 2007 Sep. 33(9):1102-8.