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Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor

Last updated July 17, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor (PPT) is a rare hair follicle tumor of skin that is generally observed in women during middle and older age.


What are the other Names for this Condition? (Also known as/Synonyms)

  • Benign Pilar Tumor of Scalp
  • Benign Proliferating Trichilemmal Cyst
  • PTT (Proliferating Trichilemmal Tumor)

What is Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor? (Definition/Background Information)

  • Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor (PPT) is a rare hair follicle tumor of skin that is generally observed in women during middle and older age. It is also known as a Benign Proliferating Trichilemmal Cyst
  • This cyst is usually painless and solitary, and can be present anywhere in the body; however, the most common location is the scalp. In some cases, it can ulcerate at the top of the lesion
  • The cause and risk factors for Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor are unknown, but if multiple cysts are present on the body, then a familial inheritance may be observed
  • In a majority of cases, no treatment in necessary, unless it causes discomfort in the individual including cosmetic issues. In some cases, Benign PPTs can infiltrate the surrounding areas, but they do not metastasize unlike malignant PPTs
  • A simple surgical excision of the tumor is considered curative. The prognosis for Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor is excellent with suitable treatment

Who gets Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor? (Age and Sex Distribution)

  • Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor is a rare cyst that is more common in middle-aged and elderly adults
  • Both males and females may be affected, though there is a preference for females
  • Individuals of all racial and ethnic background may be affected. Worldwide, no geographical localization has been reported

What are the Risk Factors for Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor? (Predisposing Factors)

  • Currently, no risk factors have been identified for Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor
  • Nevertheless, a positive family history may influence the development of multiple cysts on the body

It is important to note that having a risk factor does not mean that one will get the condition. A risk factor increases ones chances of getting a condition compared to an individual without the risk factors. Some risk factors are more important than others.

Also, not having a risk factor does not mean that an individual will not get the condition. It is always important to discuss the effect of risk factors with your healthcare provider.

What are the Causes of Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor? (Etiology)

  • The cause of development of Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor is unknown. Research is currently being undertaken to identify the relevant causal factors
  • If numerous cysts appear all over the body, then it may be due to a family history of the condition

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor?

Most Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumors are asymptomatic. In some, the signs and symptoms observed include:

  • It usually occurs as a single cyst on the skin. It can range in size from 2-10 cm
  • The skin over the nodules may have a reddish discoloration
  • These cysts are usually painless and non-itchy. They are mostly well-demarcated and firm to touch
  • Though Benign PPT can occur at any location in the body, it is commonly present on the scalp

Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor typically occurs as a single cyst that grows slowly. However, multiple cysts may also be seen, when a family history of the condition is present.

How is Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor Diagnosed?

A diagnosis of Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor may involve the following:

  • A thorough medical history and physical examination
  • Dermoscopy: It is a diagnostic tool where a dermatologist examines the skin using a special magnified lens
  • Wood’s lamp examination: In this procedure, the healthcare provider examines the skin using ultraviolet light. It is performed to examine the change in skin pigmentation
  • Skin biopsy: A skin biopsy is performed and sent to a laboratory for a pathological examination. The pathologist examines the biopsy under a microscope. After putting together clinical findings, special studies on tissues (if needed) and with microscope findings, the pathologist arrives at a definitive diagnosis

Note: A biopsy may be performed to rule out other skin conditions with similar signs and symptoms.

Many clinical conditions may have similar signs and symptoms. Your healthcare provider may perform additional tests to rule out other clinical conditions to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.

What are the possible Complications of Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor?

Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumors generally do not cause any significant complications, in most cases. However, the following factors may be a cause for concern:

  • Sometimes, the cysts can proliferate and multiply. These cysts have the potential to infiltrate into the local tissues and destroy surrounding structures
  • The presence of multiple cysts may also result in cosmetic issues
  • Sometimes, they can rupture, become infected and release pus. When these heal, they can leave a scar behind

How is Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor Treated?

The treatment of Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor may involve the following:

  • In a majority of cases, removal of the tumor is not necessary, unless it causes worrisome signs and symptoms such as cosmetic issues
  • The treatment of choice is a complete surgical excision, which results in a cure
  • Proliferating Pilar Tumors should be excised completely, since they can infiltrate into surrounding tissue and damage them

How can Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor be Prevented?

Currently, there are no known methods available to prevent the occurrence of Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumors.

What is the Prognosis of Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor? (Outcomes/Resolutions)

The prognosis for Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor is excellent with appropriate treatment, since it is a benign cyst.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information for Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor:

  • There is no evidence to prove that oily foods and chocolate-based products have an influence on Benign Proliferating Pilar Tumor
  • Cleaning the skin too hard with strong chemicals or soaps may aggravate the skin condition. Care must be taken avoid strong soaps and chemicals that could potentially worsen the condition
  • The presence of dirt on the body is not a causative factor for the condition. However, it helps to be clean and hygienic, which may help the condition from getting worse

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Nov. 26, 2015
Last updated: July 17, 2018