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  5. How Can You Control Pilar Cysts On Your Scalp?

Are you experiencing a sudden growth of flesh on your scalp? It could be a pilar cyst.

Pilar cysts are flesh-toned bumps that occur around your hair follicles on the scalp. These cysts are filled with fluid and are usually harmless.

While these cysts tend to go away on their own without causing much trouble, their occurrence on your scalp can be extremely uncomfortable.

To help you get rid of them as soon as possible, here is everything you need to know about pilar cyst and its treatment.

What Is A Pilar Cyst?

Pilar cyst, also known as trichilemmal cyst, is a common dermal cyst that can grow anywhere on your skin’s surface. However, studies show that 90% of cases reported pilar cyst on the scalp. It looks like small flesh-coloured lumps around your hair follicles. [1]

The usual size of a pilar cyst is between 0.5 cm to 5 cm. But it has an unrushed growth and often goes unnoticed until it reaches a certain size. Pilar cysts are filled with fluid, but mostly stay painless unless you press them too hard. You would notice that there is no hair growth on the cyst-affected area.

Typically, pilar cysts do not cause any serious problems. They may go away on their own without any treatment but it takes a considerable amount of time for that to happen. But if the cyst gets ruptured by any outside pressure or trauma like combing and picking, it may turn into an infection. The affected area will feel sore and tender. You may also experience pus oozing out from the cyst.

What Causes A Pilar Cyst?

The epithelial lining has keratin that plays a key role in creating your skin cells, nails and hair. It also makes your hair strong and flexible. But keratin has a lifespan and tends to move up to your skin’s surface when the cells die. Eventually, they are washed away. But in many cases, keratin starts building up on your skin, creating a bump. That’s when pilar cysts happen.

Pilar cysts can also be genetic. There is a chance of you getting a pilar cyst if you have a family history of the skin condition. Mostly, it occurs in adults aged 45 to 65. If your existing cyst ruptures by any chance, it increases the risk of you getting more pilar cysts. [2]

How To Diagnose A Pilar Cyst?

Pilar cysts are not hard to identify. Normally, patients themselves understand that they have a cyst on their scalp. However, when the cyst is not causing any discomfort or problem, most people leave it the way it is. But if you are looking for treatment, then taking advice from a doctor is a must.

The doctor will physically check the lump first and ask if you have any other kind of symptoms. Your medical history would also be studied. To reach a conclusion, your doctor may perform a biopsy which involves taking a small sample of the cyst. In some cases, the doctors ask patients to go under CT scan to rule out possibilities of cancer.

How To Treat Pilar Cysts?

1. Self-Healing

Not all cysts require treatment and in most cases, when the cyst is not causing any trouble, people tend to let it be. The cyst grows extremely slowly and then goes away on its own at the same pace. But to rule out possibilities of other aggressive cysts, you must seek expert advice for the lump on your scalp.

2. Removal

Most pilar cysts do not need surgical removal. Doctors usually suggest draining out the cyst with a small cut. But surgical removal is the most potent way to get rid of the cyst. The doctor applies a dressing after the removal is done. It is a quick procedure and does not require you to stay in the hospital for a long time.

3. Medicine

Your doctor may prescribe some antibiotics and ointments if you have an infected pilar cyst. Infection may make it extremely uncomfortable and irritating for you. Thus, it is necessary to treat the infection. Also, make sure you do not pick the already infected area, as it will worsen the condition.

Can You Pop A Pilar Cyst At Home?

Popping a cyst on your own is highly inadvisable. First of all, the pilar cyst has thick skin which makes it difficult to pop without any cut. If you try to pop the cyst using your nails or any other sharp objects, you may end up injuring the skin. It will lead to severe infection and pain. It is advisable to consult a doctor if you want to get rid of the pilar cyst and drop the idea of popping a cyst at home.

What Happens When A Pilar Cyst Ruptures?

Pilar cysts can rupture on their own or due to some external trauma. As the skin of a pilar cyst is quite thick, contact with your comb while brushing your hair may cause a rupture. Many people tend to constantly pick these cysts with their nails to get rid of them, which may also cause the cyst to rupture.

A ruptured cyst starts oozing out. You will experience discomfort and pain along the side. In many cases, an unwanted tear on the cyst causes infection. In an infected cyst, the bacteria may enter your bloodstream through the cut. Hence, you may experience other symptoms of illness as well. Also, a ruptured cyst increases the chances of you getting other pilar cysts.

Pilar Cyst Vs Sebaceous Cyst


Pilar Cyst

Sebaceous Cyst[3]


Pilar cyst occurs due to keratin build up on your skin’s surface.

Sebaceous cyst happens when any sebaceous gland or its duct gets damaged or blocked.

Affected Area

Pilar cyst can happen anywhere on your skin but mostly it appears on the scalp.

Sebaceous cyst usually occurs on the face, neck and torso.

How Do They Look?

Pilar cyst has a flesh-toned small lump like appearance.

Sebaceous cysts are often skin-coloured, whitish or yellowish.


Pilar cysts are generally harmless. But if ruptured it can cause infection.

Sebaceous cysts are mostly non-cancerous and harmless. But it can cause discomfort if left alone for a long time.


Pilar cysts may heal on their own if not infected. In case of infection, you will need immediate medical attention. You can also permanently remove the cyst through surgery.

Sebaceous cysts are treated either by draining them or by completely removing them through surgery.

Wrapping Up

A pilar cyst is a dermal skin condition that mostly occurs on the scalp. Being harmless in nature, it does not cause much problem. But the cyst may get infected if ruptured, and you may feel discomfort and pain. Immediate medical attention is required in such cases. You can opt for surgical removal of the cyst to get rid of it at once. Many people tend to leave the cyst alone as it goes away on its own in most cases.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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