Atheroma is a benign growth of the skin and subcutaneous tissue that is caused by increased secretion of sebaceous glands and the formation of a capsule around the said fatty content. Atheromas are located in the last layer of the skin – the dermis, so their other name is dermal cyst.
Atheromas most often occur on the face, neck, behind the ears and back, and can also appear on any other part of the body. Initially, a whitish nodule is noticeable on or under the skin, which moves under pressure and is elastic. Atheromas vary in size, from 5mm to several centimeters, soft to the touch. Atheromas are not painful unless inflammation occurs. At the site of inflammation, there is a sudden growth of atheroma and the appearance of redness similar to a pimple, the change is then extremely painful. A person can have atheromas for years, and can range in size from a pea size to the size of a hen’s egg.
The contents of the atheroma can be squeezed out in some situations, however the capsule in which it is housed allows the contents to be recovered. Squeezing out such changes is never recommended, because inflammation can be provoked by compromising circulation.
Atheromas need to be removed in time. The reasons can be aesthetic, practical (when they are at the place of constant irritation), when a sudden growth is noticed and when there is a physical injury or atheroma infection.
Atheromas are most effectively removed by surgical excision under local anesthesia.