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Patient Information Leaflets (PILs)

These Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) are specially written by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD). A small selection is available in booklet format and can be ordered by filling in an order form.

The BAD has been awarded The Information Standard certification for the process it employs to develop information products aimed at the general public, which include PILs, Sun Awareness Campaign materials, and other information products.

The BAD shall hold responsibility for the accuracy of the information published, and neither the scheme operator nor the scheme owner shall have any responsibility for costs, losses, or direct or indirect damages or costs arising from inaccuracy of information or omissions in information published on the website on behalf of the BAD.

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Cysts - epidermoid and pilar

By definition, cyst is a closed sac that has two main features:

•       A lining

•       Contents that are liquid or semi-solid

The lining.Differences between the lining of epidermoid and pilar cysts can be seen under the microscope:

•       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, looking rather like white toothpaste. This is made of 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 but this term should be used only for a quite different and much less common type of cyst that is filled with a clear oily liquid made by sebaceous (grease) glands.

Epidermoid and pilar cysts are common, not cancerous, and not contagious.

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