A trichilemmal cyst, also known as a wen, pilar cyst or isthmus-catagen cyst, is a common cyst that forms from a hair follicle. They are most often found on the scalp. The cysts are smooth, mobile and filled with keratin, a protein component found in hair, nails, skin, and horns.
A cyst is a sac that is filled by a liquid or a semi-solid. Two of the most common types of cysts that form under the skin in various parts of the body are epidermoid and pilar cysts. They used to be called sebaceous cysts, but this term has been abandoned as they do not contain sebaceous fluid as was once thought.
Surgical excision is required to treat a trichilemmal cyst. The method of treatment varies depending on the physician’s training. Most physicians perform the procedure under local anesthetic. Others prefer a more conservative approach. This involves the use of a small punch biopsy about 1/4 the diameter of the cyst. The punch biopsy is used to enter the cyst cavity. The content of the cyst is emptied, leaving an empty sac.
As the pilar cyst wall is the thickest and most durable of the many varieties of cysts, it can be grabbed with forceps and pulled out of the small incision. This method is best performed on cysts larger than a pea which have formed a thick enough wall to be easily identified after the sac is emptied. Small cysts have walls that are thin, and easily fragmented on traction. This increases the likelihood of cyst recurrence. This method often results in only a small scar, and very little if any bleeding.